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Herbal Simples 

New and Enlarged Edition 




Digitized by the Internet Arcliive 
in 2014 






Aiithov of " Botanical Outlines,'' etc., etc. 


"Medicine is mine; what herbs and Simples grow 
In fields and forests, all their powers I know." 



*' Jamque aderat Phoebo ante^^jTos dilectiis lapis 
lasides : acri quondam cui captus amore 
Ipse suas artes, sua munera, laetus Apollo 
Augurium, citharamque dabat, celeresque sagittas : 
Ille ut depositi proferret fata clicntis, 
Scire potestates herbarum, usumque medendi 
Maluit, et mutas agitare inglorius artes." 

Virgil, Aineid: Libr. xii. v. 39 


"And now lapis had appeared, 
Blest leech ! to Phoebus'-self endeared 

Beyond all men below ; 
On whom the fond, indulgent God 
His augury had fain bestowed, 

His lyre — his sounding bow! 
But he, the further to prolong 

A fellow creature's span, 
The hnmhlev art of Medicine chose, 
The liuoivledge of each plant that grows. 
Plying a craft not known to song. 

An unambitious man!" 



It may happen that one or another enquirer taking 
up this book will ask, to begin with, " What is a 
Herbal Simple?" The English word "Simple," 
composed of two Latin words. Singula plica (a 
single fold), means " Singleness," whether of 
material or purpose. 

From primitive times the term " Herbal Simple " 
has been applied to any homely curative remedy 
consisting of one ingredient only, and that of a 
vegetable nature. Many such a native medicine 
found favour and success with our single-minded 
forefathers, this being the " reverent simplicity of 
ancienter times." 

In our own nursery days, as we now fondly 
remember, it was : " Simple Simon met a pieman 
going to the fair ; said Simple Simon to the pieman, 
' Let me taste your ware.' " That ingenuous youth 
had but one idea, connected simply with his 
stomach ; and his sole thought was how to devour 
the contents of the pieman's tin. We venture to 
hope our readers may be equally eager to stock their 
minds with the sound knowledge of Herbal Simples 
which this modest Manual seeks to provide for 
their use. 

Healing by herbs has always been popular both 



with the classic nations of old, and with the British 
islanders of more recent times. Two hundred and 
sixty years before the date of Hippocrates (460 b.c.) 
the prophet Isaiah bade King Hezekiah, when sick 
unto death, " take a lump of Figs, and lay it on 
the boil ; and straightway the King recovered." 

lapis, the favourite pupil of Apollo, was offered 
endowments of skill in augury, music, or archery. 
But he preferred to acquire a knowledge of herbs 
for service of cure in sickness ; and, armed with 
this knowledge, he saved the life of iEneas when 
grievously wounded by an arrow. He averted the 
hero's death by applying the plant "Dittany," 
smooth of leaf, and purple of blossom, as plucked 
on the mountain Ida. 

It is told in Malvern Chase that Mary of Elders- 
field (1454), whom some called a witch," famous 
for her knowledge of herbs and medicaments, 
" descending the hill from her hut, with a small 
phial of oil, and a bunch of the ' Dane wort,' 
speedily enabled Lord Edward of March, who had 
just then heavily sprained his knee, to avoid danger 
by mounting ' Eoan Eoland ' freed from pain, as it 
were by magic, through the plant-rubbing which 
Mary administered." 

In Shakespeare's time there was a London street, 
named Bucklersbury (near the present Mansion 
House), noted for its number of druggists who sold 
Simples and sweet-smelling herbs. We read, in 



The Merry Wives of Windsor, that Sir John 
Falstaff flouted the effeminate fops of his day as 
" Lisping hawthorn buds that smell like Bucklers- 
bury in simple time." 

Various British herbalists have produced works, 
more or less learned and voluminous, about our 
native medicinal plants ; but no author has hitherto 
radically explained the why and wherefore of their 
ultimate curative action. In common with their 
early predecessors, these several writers have recog- 
nised the healing virtues of the herbs, but have 
failed to explore the chemical principles on which 
such virtues depend. Some have attributed the 
herbal properties to the planets which rule their 
growth. Others have associated the remedial herbs 
with certain cognate colours, ordaining red flowers 
for disorders of the blood, and yellow for those of 
the liver. "The exorcised demon of jaundice," 
says Conway, " was consigned to yellow parrots ; 
that of inflammatory disease to scarlet, or red 
weeds." Again, other herbalists have selected their 
healing plants on the doctrine of allied signa- 
tures, choosing, for instance, the Viper's Bugloss as 
effectual against venomous bites, because of its 
resembling a snake ; and the sweet little English 
Eyebright, which shows a dark pupil in the centre 
of its white ocular corolla, as of signal benefit for 
sore and inflamed eyes. 

Thus it has continued to happen that until the 


last half-century Herbal Physic has remained only 
speculative and experimental, instead of gaining a 
solid foothold in the field of medical science. Its 
claims have been merely empirical, and its curative 
methods those of a blind art : — 

" Si vis cnrari, de inorbo nescio quali, 
Accipias Jierbam ; seel quale nescio ; iiec qua 
Ponas ; nescio quo ; curabere, nescio quando." 

'• Your sore, I know not wliat, be not foreslow 
To cure with herbs, which, where, I do not know ; 
Place them, well pounc't, I know not how, and then 
You shall be perfect whole, I know not when." 

Happily now-a-days, as our French neighbours 
would say, Nous avons change tout cela, " Old things 
are passed away ; behold all things are become 
new ! " Herbal Simples stand to-day safely deter- 
mined on sure ground by the help of the accurate 
chemist. They hold their own with the best, and 
rank high for homely cures, because of their proved 
constituents. Their manifest healing virtues are 
shown to depend on medicinal elements plainly dis- 
closed by analysis. Henceforward the curtain of 
oblivion must fall on cordial waters distilled 
mechanically from sweet herbs, and on electuaries 
artlessly compounded of seeds and roots by a Lady 
Monmouth, or a Countess of Arundel, as in the 
Stuart and Tudor times. Our Herbal Simples are 
fairly entitled at last to independent promotion 
from the shelves of the amateur still-room, from 



the rustic ventures of the village graiidam, and 
from the shallow practices of self styled botanical 
doctors in the back streets of our cities. 

"I do remember an apothecary, — 
And hereabouts he dwells, — whom late I noted 
In tatter'd weeds, with overwhelming brows. 
Culling of tSiiiiples ; meagre were his looks ; 
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung, 
An alligator stuff'd, and other skins 
Of ill-shap'd fishes ; and about his shelves 
A beggarly account of empty boxes. 
Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds. 
Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses 
Were thinly scattered to make up a show." 

Eoiiteo (did J If] let. Act V. Sc. 1. 

Chemically assured, therefore, of the sterling 

curative powers which our Herbal Bimples possess, 

and anxious to expound them with a competent 

pen, the present author approaches his task with a 

zealous purpose, taking as his pattern, from the 

Comus of Milton : — 

"A certain shepherd lad 
Of small regard to see to, yet well skilled 
In every virtuous plant, and healing herb ; 

He would beg me sing ; 
Which, when I did, he on the tender grass 
Would sit, and hearken even to constancy ; 
And in requital ope his leathern scrip. 
And show me Siuqjies-, of a thousand names, 
Telling their strange, and vigorous faculties." 

Shakespeare said, three centuries ago, " throw 
physic to the dogs." But prior to him, one Doctor 
Key, self styled Caius, had written in the Latin 


tongue {tempore Henry VIIL), a Medical History 
of the British Canine Race. His book became 
popular, though abounding in false concords ; inso- 
much that from then until now medical classics 
have been held by scholars in poor repute for 
grammar, and sound construction. Notwithstand- 
ing which risk, many a passage is quoted here of 
ancient Herbal lore in the past tongues of Greece, 
Borne, and the Gauls. It is fondly hoped that the 
apt hnes thus borrowed from old faultless sources 
will escape reproach for a defective modern render- 
ing in Dog Latin, Mongrel Greek, or the " French 
of Stratford atte bowe.'' 

Lastly, quaint old Fuller shall lend an appropri- 
ate Epilogue. I stand ready," said he (1672), 
" with a pencil in one hand, and a spunge in the 
other, to add, alter, insert, efface, enlarge, and 
delete, according to better information. And if 
these my pams shall be found worthy to passe a 
second Impression, my faults I will confess with 
shame, and amend with thankfulnesse, to such as 
will contribute clearer intelligence unto me." 



On its First Reading, a Bill drafted in Parliament 
meets with acquiescence from the House on both 
sides mainly because its merits and demerits are 
to be more deliberately questioned when it comes 
up again in the future for a second closer Reading. 
Meanwhile its faults can be amended, and its 
omissions supplied: fresh clauses can be intro- 
duced : and the whole scheme of the Bill can be 
better adapted to the spirit of the House inferred 
from its first reception. 

In somewhat similar fashion the Second Edition 
of " Herbal Simples " is now submitted to a Parlia- 
ment of readers with the belief that its ultimate 
success, or failure of purpose, is to depend on its 
present revised contents, and the amplified scope of 
its chapters. 

The criticisms which public journalists, not a 
few, thought proper to pass on its First Edition 
have been attentively considered herein. It is true 
their comments were in some cases so conflicting 
as to be difficult of practical appliance. The fabled 
old man and his ass stand always in traditional 
warning against futile attempts to satisfy incon- 
sistent objectors, or to carry into effect suggestions 
made by irreconcilable censors. " Quot Jiomines, tot 



sententia'," is an adage signally verified when a fresh 
venture is made on the waters of chartered opinion. 
How shall the perplexed navigator steer his course 
when monitors in office accuse him on the one hand 
of lax precision throughout, and belaud him on the 
other for careful observance of detail? Or how 
shall he trim his sails when a contemptuous 
Standard-bearer, strangely uninformed on the point, 
ignores, as a leader of any repute, " one Gerard," 
a former famous Captain of the Herbal fleet ? 
With the would-be Spectator's lament that Gerard's 
graphic drawings are regrettedly wanting here, the 
author is fain to concur. He feels that the absence 
of appropriate cuts to depict the various herbs is 
quite a deficiency : but the hope is inspired that 
a still future Edition may serve to supply this 
need. Certain botanical mistakes pointed out with 
authority by the Phannaceutical Journal have here 
been duly corrected : and as many as fifty additional 
Simples will be found described in the present En- 
larged Edition. At the same time a higher claim 
than hitherto made for the paramount importance of 
the whole subject is now courageously advanced. 

To all who accept as literal truth the Scriptural 
account of the Garden of Eden it must be evident 
how intimately man's welfare from the first was 
made to depend on his uses of trees and herbs. 
The labour of earning his bread in the sweat of his 
brow by tilling the ground : and the penalty of 



thorns and thistles produced thereupon, were ahke 
incurred by Eve's disobedience in phicking the 
forbidden fruit : and a signified possibiHty of man's 
eventful share in the tree of Hfe, to " put forth his 
hand, and eat, and hve for ever," has been more 
than vaguely revealed. So that with almost a 
sacred mission, and with an exalted motive of 
supreme usefulness, this Manual of healing Herbs 
is published anew, to reach, it is hoped, and to 
rescue many an ailing mortal. 

Against its main principle an objection has been 
speciously raised, which at first sight appears of 
subversive weight ; though, when further examined, 
it is found to be clearly fallacious. By an able but 
carping critic it was alleged that the mere chemical 
analysis of old-fashioned Herbal Simples makes 
their medicinal actions no less empirical than 
before : and that a pedantic knowledge of their 
constituent parts, invested with fine technical 
names, gives them no more scientific a 2)osition 
than that which our fathers understood. 

But, taking, for instance, the herb Eue, which 
was formerly brought into Court to j)rotect a 
Judge and the Bench from gaol fever, and other 
infectious disease ; no one knew at the time by 
what particular virtue the Eue could exercise this 
salutary power. But more recent research has 
taught, that the essential oil contained in this, and 
other allied aromatic herbs, such as Elecampane, 


Eosemary, and Cinnamon, serves by its germicidal 
principles (stearoptens, methyl-ethers, and cam- 
phors), to extinguish bacterial life which underlies 
all contagion. In a parallel way the antiseptic 
diffusible oils of Pine, Peppermint, and Thyme, are 
Hkewise employed with marked success for inhalation 
into the lungs by consumptive patients. Their 
volatile vapours reach remote parts of the diseased 
air-passages, and heal by destroying the morbid 
germs which perpetuate mischief therein. It need 
scarcely be said the very existence of these causa- 
tive microbes, much less any mode of cure by their 
abolishment, was quite unknown to former Herbal 

Again, in past times a large number of our 
native plants acquired a well-deserved, but purely 
empirical celebrity, for curing scrofula and scurvy. 
But later discovery has shown that each of these 
several herbs contains lime, and earthy salts, in a 
subtle form of high natural sub-division : whilst, 
at the same time, the law of . cure by medicinal 
similars has established the cognate fact that to 
those who inherit a strumous taint, infinitesimal 
doses of these earth salts are incontestably cura- 
tive. The parents had first undergone a gradual 
impairment of health because of calcareous matters 
to excess in their general conditions of sustenance ; 
and the lime proves potent to cure in the offspring 
what, through the parental surfeit, was entailed as 


a heritage of disease. Just in the same way the 
mineral waters of Missisquoi, and Bethesda, in 
America, through containing siHceous quahties so 
subHmated as ahuost to defy the analyst, are 
effective to cure cancer, albuminuria, and other 
organic complaints. 

Nor is this by any means a new policy of cure. 
Its barbaric practice has long since obtained, even 
in African wilds, where the native snake doctor 
inoculates with his prepared snake poison to save the 
life of a victim otherwise fatally bitten by another 
snake of the same deadly virus. To Ovid, of 
Eoman fame (20 b.c), the same sanative axiom 
was also indisputably known as we learn from his 
lines : — 

" Tunc obsers^atas angur descendit in lierbas ; 
Usus et auxilio est anguis ab angue dato." 
" Then searched the Augur low mid grass close scanned 
For snake to heal a snake-envenomed hand." 

And with equal cogency other arguments, which 
are manifold, might be readily adduced, as of con- 
gruous force, to vindicate our claim in favour of 
analytical knowledge over blind experience in the 
methods of Herbal cure, especially if this be 
pursued on the broad lines of enlightened practice 
by similars. 

So now, to be brief, and to change our allegory, 
"on the banks of the Nile," as Mrs. Malaprop 
would have pervertingiy put it, with "a nice 




derangement of epitaphs," we invite our many 
guests to a simple dinner of herbs." Such was 
man's primitive food in Paradise : " every green 
herb bearing seed, and every tree in the which is 
the fruit of a tree yielding seed : " " the green herb 
for meat for every beast of the earth, and every 
fowl of the air." What better Preface can we 
indite than a grace to be said before sitting 
down to the meal ? " Sallets," it is hoped, will 
be found " in the lines to make the matter 
savoury." Far be it from our object to preach 
a prelude of texts, or to weary those at our board 
with a meaningless long benediction. " 'Tis not 
so plain as the old Hill of Howth," said tender- 
hearted witty Tom Hood, with serio-comic truth, 
" a man has got his belly full of meat, because he 
talks with victuals in his mouth." Kather would 
we choose the "russet Yeas and honest kersey 
Noes " of sturdy yeoman speech ; and cheerfully 
taking the head of our well-stocked table, ask in 
homely terms that God will bless these the good 
creatures of His Herbal Simples to our saving uses, 
and us to His grateful service." 





- 614 




Black Pot Herb - 

- 312 

Agaric, Fly 

- 368 


- 517 




- 503 

A 1 PIT p Ti r1 p vci 

- 313 

Blessed Thistle - 

- 557 

- 386 

Blue Bp11 - 


ArQcidou - 

- 378 

Bog Bean 


Anemone Wood - 






Tim r*li-pi"» 

1 fid 

A Til cppH 


"RTTiriTrl 1 TT» p 




A "rciiT» n.vh 

Xii. OlJ-l CUi- u 

- 606 

Bryony, Black 


A vfi A» n r\l^p r4-lr\riP 


, , VV XJl Lie 



-Tpvn QP.l pm 

- 549 





- 510 

Asafetida - 

- 209 

Bullace - 

- 520 

Ash, Mountain - 

- 350 

Bulrush - 

- 481 


- 35 

Burdock - 

- 162 

Asphodel, Bog 

- 482 

Burnet Saxifrage 

- 430 


- 47 

Butcher's Broom 



- 64 

- 119 

- 71 


- 39 

Barberry - 

- 42 

Cabbage - 

- 74 


- 44 


- 76 

Basil, Sweet 

- 45 

Calami nt - 

- 343 


- 415 

Camphor - 

- 337 

Bed straw - 

- 231 


- 78 

Bee sting - 

- 260 

Caraway - 

- 81 


- 507 

Carline Thistle - 

- 558 


- 388 

Carraigeen IMoss - 

- 500 

Bennet Herb 

- 47 


- 88 

Betony, Water 

50, 198 

Cascara Sagrada- 

- 70 

,, Wood - 

- 42 

Cat Mint - ' 

- 344 

Bilberry - 

- 652 

Cat Thyme 

- 565 

Bistort, Great 

- 607 

Cat's Tail 

- 482 


Celandine, Greater 






,, Lesser 


,, Great Water 




,, Yellow Curled 


Centaury - 






Dog's Mercury 


,, Bitter 


Dropwort, Water 






Chervil - 

- 100 

Chestnut, Horse - 

- 102 

Earth Nut 


,, Sweet - 
Chick weed 

- 104 

Egg - - - 


- 105 



Chicory - 

- 542 

,, Dwarf 


Christmas Rose - 

- 107 





Eryngo - 



- 390 



Cinquefoil, Creeping 

- 516 


- 492 

Fairy Rings 


Cleavers - 

- 230 



Clover, Meadow - 

- 110 

,, Water 




- 112 



- 395 

,, Female (Bracken) 


Club Moss 

- 113 

,, Hart's -tongue 



- 483 

,, Maidenhair 


Coltsfoot - 

- 116 

,, Male 


Comfrey - 

120, 595 

„ Polypody - 


,, Prickly - 

- 122 

„ Royal 



- 122 



Couch Grass 

- 242 

Wall Rue - 


Cow - ■ 

- 126 

Feverfew - 


Cowslip - 

- 124 



Crab Apple 

- 29 

Figwort - 


Cresses - 

- 127 

Flag, Blue 


Cress, Garden 

- 128 

,, Yellow 


Crowfoot - 

- 129 

,, Stinking (Gladdon) 


- 71 

„ Sweet - 201, 480 

Cuckoo Flower - 

- 134 



Cuckoo Pint 

- 33 

„ Purging 



- 135 

Fly Agaric 


Currants, Red, White,- 

Foxglove - 


and Black 

- 137 





- 141 


- 143 

Gage, Green 


Damson - 

- 520 




- 147 

,, Poor Man's 



- 242 




- 152 

Gipsy Wort (Water Hore- 


- 155 

hound) - 



Good King Henry - 227 

Gooseberry - - 223 

Goosefoot - - 227 

Stinking - 229 

Goosegrass - - 230 

Goutweed - - 235 

Grapes - - - 236 

Grasses - - - 241 

Ground Ivy - - 283 

Groundsel - - 243 

Hawthorn - - 245 

Hellebore, Stinking - 109 

Hemlock- - - 248 

Water- - 251 

Hemp Agrimony - 19 

Henbane- - - 252 

Herb, Bennet - - 47 

Hoglouse - - - 564 

Honey - - - 256 

Hop - - - 262 

Horehound, Black - 268 

White - 267 

Horse Radisli - - 269 

House Leek - - 273 

Hyssop - - - 277 

Hedge - - 279 

Iceland INToss - - 500 

Irish Moss - - 500 

Ivy - - - 280 

Ground - - 283 

John's Wort, Saint - 287 

Juniper - - - 291 

Knapweed, the Lesser - 296 

Ladies' Mantle - 511 

Smock - - 134 

Lavender- - - 296 

Sea - - 300 

Laver - - - 505 

Leek - - - 220 

Lemon - ■ - 300 

Lentil - - - 305 

Lettuce - ' - 308 


Lettuce, Lamb's- - 312 

Wild - - 307 

Lily of the Valley - 313 

Lily, Water - - 604 

I Lime Tree - - 316 

i Linseed - - - 202 

Liquorice - 318 

\ Lords and Ladies (Arum) 33 

I Lungwort - - 594 

Lupine - - - 306 






, Marsh 


M u sk 



1\T P T*l OTil rl - 


- 331 

Melancholy Thistle 

- 560 

INXfcJIluIlUi - 


i\±t;iC/Uiy, xyug o 



Milk Tbistlp 



Mistletoe - 

- 345 

Monk's Rhubarb - 

- 159 

]\Ioon Daisy 

- 146 

Moss, Club 

- 113 


- 500 

,, Irish 

- 500 

Mountain Ash 

- 350 

Mugwort - 

- 352 

Mu] berry - 

- 356 

Mullein - 

- 359 


- 581 


- 362 

Mustard - 

- 375 

„ Hedge - 

222, 381 


- 132 


- 382 

,, Dead 

- 387 

Night Shade, Deadly 

- 388 

Nutmeg - 

- 393 


- 602 


Oak Bark 



Quince - 


- 452 


- 397 


- 209 

Radish - 

- 455 


- 229 

, , Horse 
Ragwort - 

- 269 


- 399 

- 457 

Orchids - 

- 404 

Ransoms - 

- 221 

Orpine (Live Long) 

- 276 


- 459 

Oxeye Daisy 

- 146 

Reed, Sweet Scented 

- 480 

Rest Harrow 

- 320 

Pansy, Wild 

- 589 

Rhubarb, Garden 

- 159 

Parsley - 

- 407 


- 401 

,, Fool's - 

- 412 


- 470 

Parsnip - 

- 413 

Wild - 

- 474 

,, Water - 

- 414 


- 463 


- 416 


. 469 


- 418 




- 419 


- 479 

Pellitory of Spain 

- 424 

of Wall 

- 423 

Saffron - 

- 485 


- 334 

,, Meadov/ 

- 483 


- 338 


- 489 

Pepper, Water - 

- 606 

,, Meadow 

- 492 

Periwinkle, Greater 

- 427 


Saint John's Wort 

- 155 


- 428 

- 287 


- 422 


- 405 

Pilewort - 

- 90 


- 178 

Pimento, Allspice 

- 386 


- 497 


- 428 

Sanicle - 

- 508 


- 576 


- 222 


- 432 


- 493 

Plantain, Greater 

- 433 

Schalot - 

- 222 

,, Ribwort 

- 435 

Scurvy Grass 

133, 495 

Water - 
Plum, Common - 

- 435 

Sea Holly 

- 498 

- 520 

,, Tang 
,, Water 

- 502 

„ Wild 

- 520 

- 508 

Polypody Fern - 

- 190 

,, Weeds 

- 496 

Poppy, Scarlet - 

- 437 

Selfheal - 

- 508 

„ Welsh - 

- 441 

Service Tree 

- 352 

,, White 


Shepherd's Purse 



- 441 


- 514 

Primrose - 

- 447 

j Skullcap - 

- 516 

,, Evening 

- 449 

; ,, the Lesser 

- 517 

Primula - 

- 449 


- 517 


- 522 


- 409 

Prunella - 

-. 509 

Soapwort - 
Solomon's Seal - 

- 522 

Psyllium Seeds - 


- 524 

Puff Ball - 

- 365 


- 160 


- 20 

1 „ Wood 

- 161 








- 576 

Sowbread - 



- 290 

Sow Thistle 




Valerian, Red - 

- 585 



Wild - 
Verbena (Vervain) 

- 583 

Spinach - - - 


- 586 

,, Sea 
Spindle Tree 


Verjuice - 

29, 238 


Vernal Grass 

- 241 

Spurge Wood 



240, 688 



Violet, Sweet 

- 592 



„ Wild 

- 589 

Stonecrop (House Leek) 


Viper's Bugloss - 

. - 594 






- 595 

Succory - 


Walnut - 

- 597 

Sundew - 



- 601 



Water Dropwort - 

- 602 

- 129 

- 603 



Figwort - 

- 198 




- 269 



Lily, White 

- 605 

Tarragon - 
Teasel, Fuller's - 


„ Yellow 

- 605 


,, Pepper 

- 606 

„ Wild 



- 245 

Thistles - 



- 62 

Thymol - 


Woodruff, Sweet - 

- 608 


,, Squinancy 

- 609 

Toadflax - 


Wood Sorrel 

161, 610 




365, 612 

Tomato - 


Woundwort, Hedge 

- 615 



Truffle - 


Yarrow - 

- 616 




- 619 




The art of Simpling is as old with us as our British 
hills. It aims at curing common ailments with simple 
remedies culled from the soil, or got from home resources 
near at hand. 

Since the days of the Anglo-Saxons such remedies 
have been chiefly herbal ; insomuch that the word 
"drug" came originally from their verb drigan, to dry, 
as applied to medicinal plants. 

These primitive Simplers were guided in their choice 
of herbs partly by watching animals who sought them 
out for self-cure, and partly by discovering for them- 
selves the sensible properties of the plants as revealed 
by their odour and taste ; also by their supposed 
resemblance to those diseases which nature meant them 
to heal. 

John Evelyn relates in his Acetaria (1725) that 
" one Signor Faquinto, physician to Queen Anne 
(mother to the beloved martyr, Charles the First), and 
formerly physician to one of the Popes, observing scurvy 
and dropsy to be the epidemical and dominant diseases 




of this nation, went himself into the hundreds of Essex, 
reputed the most unhealthy county of this island, and 
used to follow the sheep and cattle on purpose to observe 
what plants they chiefly fed upon ; and of these Simples 
he composed an excellent electuary of marvellous effects 
against these same obnoxious infirmities." Also, in like 
manner, it was noticed by others that " the dog, if out 
of condition, would seek for certain grasses of an emetic 
or purgative sorb ; sheep and cows, when ill, would 
devour curative plants ; an anima^ suffering from 
rheumatism would remain as much as it could in the 
sunshine ; and creatures infested by parasites would 
roll themselves frequently in the dust." Again, William 
Coles in his Nature's Paradise, or, Art of Simpling 
(1657), wrote thus: "Though sin and Sathan have 
plunged mankinde into an ocean of infirmities, yet the 
mercy of God, which is over all His works, maketh 
grass to grow upon the mountaines, and Herbes for the 
use of men ; and hath not only stamped upon them a 
distinct forme, but also given them particular signatures, 
whereby a man may read even in legible characters the 
use of them." 

The present manual of our native Herbal Simples 
seeks rather to justify their uses on the sound basis 
of accurate chemical analysis, and precise elementary 
research. Hitherto medicinal herbs have come down to 
us from early times as possessing only a traditional 
value, and as exercising merely empirical effects. Their 
selection has been commended solely by a shrewd 
discernment, and by the practice of successive centuries. 
But to-day a closer analysis in the laboratory, and 
skilled provings by experts have resolved the several 
plants into their component parts, and have chemically 
determined the medicinal nature of these parts, both 



singly and collectively. So that the study and practice 
of curative British herbs may now fairly take rank as an 
exact science, and may command the full confidence of 
the sick for supplying trustworthy aid and succour in 
their times of bodily need. 

Scientific reasons which are self-convincing may be 
readily adduced for prescribing all our best known 
native herbal medicines. Among them the Elder, 
Parsley, Peppermint, and Watercress may be taken as 
familiar examples of this leading fact. Almost from 
time immemorial in England a " rob " made from the 
juice of Elderberries simmered and thickened with 
sugar, or mulled Elder wine concocted from the fruit, 
with raisins, sugar, and spices, has been a popular 
remedy in this country, if taken hot at bedtime, for a 
recent cold, or for a sore throat. But only of late has 
chemistry explained that Elderberries furnish "viburnic 
acid," which induces sweating, and is specially curative 
of inflammatory bronchial soreness. So likewise Parsley, 
besides being a favourite pot herb, and a garnish for 
cold meats, has been long popular in rural districts as a 
tea for catarrh of the bladder or kidneys ; whilst the 
bruised leaves have been extolled as a poultice for 
swellings and open sores. At the same time, a saying 
about the herb has commonly prevailed that it " brings 
death to men, and salvation to women." Not, however, 
until recently has it been learnt that the sweet-smelling 
plant yields what chemists call " apiol," or Parsley- 
Camphor, which, when given in moderation, exercises 
a quieting influence on the main sensific centres of 
life — the head and the spine. Thereby any feverish 
irritability of the urinary organs inflicted by cold, or 
other nervous shock, would be subordinateiy allayed. 
Thus likewise the Parsley-Camphor (whilst serving, 



when applied externally, to usefully stimulate indolent 
wounds) proves especially beneficial for female irregu- 
larities of the womb, as was first shown by certain 
French doctors in 1849. 

Again, with respect to Peppermint, its cordial water, 
or its lozenges taken as a confection, have been popular 
from the days of our grandmothers for the relief of colic 
in the bowels, or for the stomach-ache of flatulent 
indigestion. But this practice has obtained simply 
because the pungent herb was found to diffuse grateful 
aromatic warmth within the stomach and bowels, whilst 
promoting the expulsion of wind ; whereas we now 
know that an active principle " menthol " contained in 
the plant, and which may be extracted from it as a 
camphoraceous oil, possesses in a marked degree anti- 
septic and sedative properties which are chemically 
hostile to putrescence, and preventive of dyspeptic 

Lastly, the Watercress has for many years held credit 
with the common people for curing scurvy and its allied 
ailments ; while its juices have been further esteemed 
as of especial use in arresting tubercular consumption of 
the lungs ; and yet it has remained for recent analysis 
to show that the Watercress is chemically rich in "anti- 
scorbutic salts," which tend to destroy the germs of 
tubercular disease, and which strike at the root of scurvy 
generally. These salts and remedial principles are 
"sulphur," "iodine," "potash," "phosphatic earths," and 
a particular volatile essential oil known as "sulpho- 
cyanide of allyl," which is almost identical with the 
essential oil of White Mustard. 

Moreover, many of the chief Herbal Simples indi- 
genous to Great Britain are further entitled for a still 
stronger reason to the fullest confidence of both doctor 



and patient. It has been found that when taken 
experimentally in varying quantities by healthy provers. 
many single medicines will produce symptoms precisely 
according with those of definite recognized maladies; 
and the same herbs, if administered curatively, in doses 
sufficiently small to avoid producing their toxical 
effects, will speedily and surely restore the patient to 
health by dispelling the said maladies. Good instances 
of such homologous cures are afforded by the common 
Buttercup, the wild Pansy, and the Sundew of our 
boggy marshes. It is widely known that the field 
Buttercup {Ranunculus hulbosus), when pulled from the 
ground, and carried in the palm of the hand, will redden 
and inflame the skin by the acrimony of its juices ; or, 
if the bruised leaves are applied to any part they will 
excite a blistering of the outer cuticle, with a discharge 
of watery fluid from numerous small vesicles, whilst the 
tissues beneath become red, hot, and swollen ; and these 
combined symptoms precisely represent "shingles," — a 
painful skin disease given to arise from a depraved state 
of the bodil}^ system, and from a faulty supply of 
nervous force. These shingles appear as a crop of sore 
angry blisters, which commonly surround the walls of 
the chest either in part or entirely; and modern medicine 
teaches that a medicinal tincture of the Buttercup, if 
taken in small doses, and applied, will promptly and 
effectively cure the same troublesome ailment ; whilst it 
will further serve to banish a neuralgic or rheumatic 
stitch occurring in the side from any other cause. 

And so with respect to the Wild Pansy ( Viola tricolor), 
we read in Hahnemann's commentary on the proved 
plant : " The Pansy Violet excites certain cutaneous 
eruptions about the head and face, a hard thick scab 
being formed, which is cracked here and there, and 



from which a tenacious yellow matter exudes, and 
liardens into a substance like gum." This is an accurate 
picture of the diseased state seen often affecting the 
scalp of unhealthy children, as milk-crust, or, when aggra- 
vated, as a disfiguring eczema, and concerning the same 
Dr. Hughes of Brighton, in his authoritative modern 
treatise, says, "I have rarely needed any other medicine 
than the Viola tricolor for curing milk-crust, which is 
the plague of children," and " I have given it in the 
adult for recent impetigo (a similar disease of the skin), 
with very satisfactory results." 

Finally, the Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), which is a 
common little plant growing on our bogs, and marshy 
places, is found to act in the same double fashion of 
cause or cure according to the quantity taken, or 
administered. Farmers well know that thio small herb 
when devoured by sheep in their pasturage will bring 
about a violent chronic cough, with waste of substance : 
whilst the Sundew when given experimentally to cats 
has been found to stud the surface of their lungs with 
morbid tubercular matter, though this is a form of 
disease to which cats are not otherwise liable. In like 
manner healthy human provers have become hoarse of 
voice through taking the plant, and troubled with a 
severe cough, accompanied with the expectoration of 
abundant yellow mucus, just as in tubercular mischief 
beginning at the windpipe. Meantime it has been well 
demonstrated (by Dr. Curie, and others) that at the 
onset of pulmonary consumption in the human subject 
a cure may nearly always be brought about, or the 
symptoms materially improved, by giving the tincture 
of Sundew throughout several weeks— from four to 
twenty drops in the twenty-four hours. And it has 
further become an established fact that the same tincture 



will serve with remarkable success to allay the trouble- 
some spasms of Whooping Cough in its second stage, if 
given in small closes, repeated several times a day. 

From these several examples, therefore, which are 
easy to be understood, we may fairly conchide that 
positive remedial actions are equally exercised by other 
Herbal Simples, both because of their chemical con- 
stituents and by reason of their curing in many cases 
according to the known law of medicinal correspondence. 

Until of late no such an assured position could be 
rightly claimed by our native herbs, though pretentions 
in their favour have been widely popular since early 
English times. Indeed, Herbal physic has engaged the 
attention of many authors from the primitive days of 
Dioscorides (a.d. 60) to those of Elizabethan Gerard, 
whose exhaustive and delightful volume published in 
1587 has remained ever since in paramount favour with 
the English people. Its quaint fascinating style, and its 
queer astrological notions, together with its admirable 
woodcuts of the plants described, have combined to 
make this comprehensive Herbal a standing favourite 
even to the present day. 

Gerard had a large physic-garden near his house in 
Old Bourne (Holborn), and there is in the British 
Museum a letter drawn up by his hand asking Lord 
Burghley, his patron, to advise the establishment by the 
University of Cambridge in their grounds of a Simpling 
Herbarium. Nevertheless, we are now told (H. Lee, 
1883) that Gerard's "ponderous book is little more than 
a translation of Dodonoeus, from which comparatively 
un-read author whole chapters have been taken verbatim 
without acknowledgment." 

No English work on herbs and plants is met with 
prior to the sixteenth century. In 1552 all books on 



astronomy and geography were ordered to be destroyed, 
because supposed to be infected with magic. And it is 
more than probable that any publications extant at 
that time on the virtues of herbs (then associated by 
mau}^ persons with witchcraft), underwent the same 
fate. In like manner King Hezekiah long ago "fearing 
lest the Herbals of Solomon should come into profane 
hands, caused them to be burned," as we learn from 
that "loyal and godly herbalist," Robert Turner. 

During the reigns of Edward the Sixth and Mary, 
Dr. William Bulleyn ranked high as a physician and 
botanist. He wrote the first Bake of Simples, which 
remains among the most interesting literary productions 
of that era as a record of his acuteness and learning. 
It advocates the exclusive employment of our native 
herbal medicines. Again, Nicholas Culpeper, "student 
in physick," whose name is still a household word with 
many a plain thinking English person, published in 
1652, for the benefit of the Commonwealth, his 
" Compleat Method whereby a man may cure himself 
being sick, for threepence charge, with such things only 
as grow in England, they being most fit for English 
bodies." Likewise in 1696 the Honourable Richard 
Boyle, F.R.S., published "^ CoUedion of Choice, Safe, 
and Simple English liemcdies, easily prepared, very 
useful in families, and fitted for the service of country 

Once more, the noted John Wesley gave to the 
world in 1769 an admirable little treatise on Primitive 
Physic, or an Easy and Nafural Method for Curing most 
Diseases ; the medicines on which he chiefly relied being 
our native plants. For asthma, he advised the sufferer 
to "live a fortnight on boiled Carrots only"; for "bald- 
ness, to wash the head with a decoction of Boxwood " ; 



for " blood-spitting to drink the juice of Nettles " ; for 
"an open cancer, to take freely of Clivers, or Goose- 
grass, whilst covering the sore with the bruised leaves 
of this herb " ; and for an ague, to swallow at stated 
times " six middling pills of Cobweb." 

In Wesley's day tradition only, with shrewd guesses 
and close observation, led him to prescribe these reme- 
dies. But now we have learnt by patient chemical 
research that the Wild Carrot possesses a particular 
volatile oil, which promotes copious expectoration for 
the relief of asthmatic cough; that the Nettle is endowed 
in its stinging hairs with " formic acid," Avhich avails to 
arrest bleeding ; that Boxwood yields "buxine," a specific 
stimulant to those nerves of supply which command the 
hair bulbs ; that Goosegrass or Clivers is of astringent 
benefit in cancer, because of its "tannic," "citric,"' and 
"rubichloric acids"; and that the Spider's Web is of real 
curative value in ague, because it affords an albuminous 
principle " allied to and isomeric with quinine." 

Long before this middle era in medicine, during quite 
primitive British times, the name and office of "Leeches" 
were familiar to the people as the first doctors of physic ; 
and their parahilia or " accessibles " were worts from 
the field and the garden ; so that when the Saxons 
obtained possession of Britain, they found it already 
cultivated and improved by what the Komans knew of 
agriculture and of vegetable productions. Hence it had 
happened that Rue, Hyssop, Fennel, Mustard, Elecam- 
pane, Southernwood, Celandine, Radish, Cummin, Onion, 
Lupin, Chervil, Fleur de Luce, Flax (probably), Rose- 
mary, Savory, Lovage, Parsley, Coriander, Alexanders, 
or Olusatrum, the black pot herb, Savin, and other 
useful herbs, were already of common growth for 
kitchen uses, or for medicinal purposes. 


And as a remarkable incidental fact antiquity has 
bequeathed to us the legend, that goats were always 
exceptionally wise in the choice of these wholesome 
herbs ; that they are, indeed, the herbalists among 
quadrupeds, and known to be " cunning in simples." 
From which notion has grown the idea that they are 
physicians among their kind, and that their odour is 
wholesome to the animals of the farmyard generally. So 
that in deference, unknowingly, to this superstition, it 
still happens that a single Nanny or a Betty is freakishl}^ 
maintained in many a modern farmyard, living at ease, 
rather than put to any real use, or kept for any par- 
ticular purpose of service. But in case of stables on 
fire, he or she will face the flames to make good an 
escape, and then the horses will follow. 

It was through chewing the beans of IMocha, and 
becoming stupefied thereby, that unsuspicious goats first 
drew the attention of Mahomedan monks to the wonder- 
ful properties of the Coffee berry. 

Next, coming down to the first part of the present 
century, we find that purveyors of medicinal and savourj- 
herbs then wandered over the whole of England in 
quest of such useful simples as were in constant demand 
at most houses for the medicine-chest, the store-closet, 
or the toilet-table. These rustic practitioners of the 
healing art were knov\'n as "green men," who carried 
with them their portable apparatus for distilling 
essences, and for preparing their herbal extracts. In 
token of their having formerly officiated in this capacity, 
there may yet be seen in London and elsewhere about 
the country, taverns bearing the curious sign of " The 
Green Man and (his) Still." 

It is told of a certain French writer not long since, 
that whilst complacently describing our British manners 



and customs, he gravely translated this legend of the 
signboard into " Lliomme vert, et tranquil.'^ 

Passing on finally to our own times at the close of the 
nineteenth century, we are able now-a-days, as has been 
already said, to avail ourselves of precise chemical 
research by apparatus far in advance of the untutored 
herbalist's still. He prepared his medicaments and his 
fragrant essences, merely as a mechanical art, and 
without pretending to fathom their method of physical 
action. But the skilled expert of to-day resolves his 
herbal simples into their ultimate elements by exact 
analysis in the laboratory, and has learnt to attach its 
proper medicinal virtue to each of these curative 
principles. It has thus come about that Herbal Physic 
under competent guidance, if pursued with intelligent 
care, is at length a reliable science of fixed methods, and 
crowned with sure results. 

■ Moreover, in this happy way is at last vindicated the 
infinite superiority felt instinctively by our forefathers 
of home-grown herbs over foreign and far-fetched drugs ; 
a superiority long since expressed by Ovid with classic 
felicity in the passage : — 

" ^tas cui facimus aurea nomen, 
Fructibus arbuteis, et humus quas educat herbis 
Fortunata fuit." — Metamorphos., Lib. XV. 

" Happy the age, to which we moderns give 
The name of ' golden,' when men chose to live 
On woodland fruits ; and for their medicines took 
Herbs from the field, and simples from the brook." 

or, as epitomised in the time-worn Latin adage : — 
" Qui potest mederi simplicibus frustra quserit composita." 
" If simple herbs suffice to cure, 
'Tis vain to compound drugs endure." 

In the following pages our leading Herbal Simples 



are reviewed alphabetically ; Avhilst, to ensure accuracy, 
the genus and species of each plant are particularised. 

Most of these herbs may be gathered fresh in their 
proper season by persons who have acquired a know- 
ledge of their parts, and who live in districts where 
such plants are to be found growing ; and to other 
persons who inhabit towns, or Avho have no practical 
acquaintance with Botany, great facilities are now given 
by our principal druggists for obtaining from theii- 
stores concentrated fresh juices of the chief herbal 

Again, certain preparations of plants used only for 
their specific curative methods are to be got exclu- 
sively from the Homoeopathic chemist, unless gathered 
at first hand. These, not being officinal, fail to find a 
place on the shelves of the ordinary Pharmaceutical 
druggist. Nevertheless, when suitably employed, they 
are of singular efficacy in curing the maladies to which 
they stand akin by the law of similars. For convenience 
of distinction here, the symbol H. will follow such 
particular preparations, which number in all some 
seventy -five of the simples described. At the same time 
any of the more common extracts, juices, and tinctures 
(or the proper parts of the plants for making these 
several medicaments), may be readily purchased at the 
shop of every leading druggist. 

It has not been thought expedient to include among 
the Simples for homely uses of cure such powerfully 
poisonous plants as Monkshood {Aconite), Deadly Night- 
shade {Belladonna), Foxglove {Digitalis), Hemlock 
or Henbane (except for some outward uses), and the 
like dangerous herbs, these being beyond the province 
of domestic medicine, whilst only to be administered 
under the advice and guidance of a qualified prescriber. 



The chief purpose held in view has been to reconsider 
those safe and sound herbal curative remedies and 
medicines which were formerly most in vogue as 
homely simples, whether to be taken or to be out- 
wardly applied. And the main object has been to show 
with what confidence their uses may be now resumed, 
or retained under the guidance of modern chemical 
teachings, and of precise scientific provings. This 
question equally applies, whether the Simples be em- 
ployed as auxiliaries by the physician in attendance, 
or are welcomed for prompt service in a household 
emergency as ready at hand when the doctor cannot be 
immediately had. 

Moreover, such a Manual as the present of approved 
Herbal Remedies need not by any means be disparaged 
by the busy practitioner, when his customary medicines 
seem to be out of place, or are beyond speedy reach ; it 
being well known that a sick person is always ready to 
accept with eagerness plain assistant remedies sensibly 
advised from the garden, the store-closet, the spice-box, 
or the field. 

" Of simple medicines, and their powers to cure, 
A wise physician makes his knowledge sure ; 
Else for the household in his healing art 
He stands ill-litted to take useful part." 

So said Oribasus (freely translated) as long ago as the 
fourth century, in classic terms prophetic of later times, 

Simplicinm medicamentorum et facuUatum quce in eis 
insimt cognitio ita necessaria est ut sine ed nemo rite medicari 

But after all has been said and done, none the less 
must it be finally acknowledged in the pathetic 
utterance of King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon proverb, AHs 



no wurt woxeii on woode ne on felde, per enure mage he lif 

"No wort is waxen in wood or wold, 
Which may for ever man's life uphold." 

Xeither to be discov^ered in the quaint Herbals of 
primitive times, nor to be learnt by the advanced 
chemical knowledge of modern plant lore, is there any 
panacea for all the ills to which our flesh is heir, or 
an elixir of life, which can secure for us a perpetual 
immunity from sickness. Contra vim mortis nulhun 
medicamentuni in hortis, says the rueful Latin distich : — 

" No healing herb can conquer death, 
And so for always give us breath." 

To sum up which humiliating conclusion gr od George 
Herbert has put the matter thus with epigrammatic 
conciseness : — 

" St. Luke was a saint and a physician, yet he is dead ! " 

But none the less bravely we may still take comfort 
each in his mortal frailty, because of the hopeful promise 
preached to men long since by the son of Sirach, 
" A faithful friend is the Medicine of life ; they that 
fear the Lord shall find Him." 




This is the well-known fruit of our British Oak, to 
which tree it gives the name — Aik, or Eik, Oak. 

The Acorn was esteemed by Dioscorides, and other 
old authors, for its supposed medicinal virtues. As 
an article of food it is not known to have been 
habitually used at any time by the inhabitants of 
Britain, though acorns furnished the chief support 
of the large herds of swine on which our forefathers 
subsisted. The right of maintaining these swine in the 
woods was called "panage," and formed a valuable 

The earliest inhabitants of Greece and Southern 
Europe who lived in the primeval forests were sup- 
ported almost wholly on the fruit of the Oak. They 
were described by classic authors as fat of person, and 
were called " balanophagi " — acorn eaters. 

During the great dearth of 1709 the French were 
driven to eat bread of acorns steeped in water to destroy 
the bitterness, and they suffered therefrom injurious 
effects, such as obstinate constipation, or destructive 

It is worth serious notice medically that in years 
remarkable for a large yield of Acorns disastrous losses 
have occurred among young cattle from outbreaks of 
acorn poisoning, or the acorn disease. Those up to two 
years old suffered most severely, but sheep, pigs and 
deer were not affected by this acorn malady. Its 
symptoms are progressive wasting, loss of appetite, 
diarrhoea, sore places inside the mouth, discharge from 



the eyes and nostrils, excretion of much pale urine, and 
no fever, but a fall of temperature below the normal 
standard. Having regard to which train of symptoms 
it is fair to suppose the acorn will afford in the human 
subject a useful specific medicine for the marasmus, or 
wasting atrophy of young children who are scrofulous. 
The fruit should be given in the form of a tincture, or 
vegetable extract, or even admixed (when ground) 
sparingly with wheaten flour in bread. The dose 
should fall short of producing any of the above symp- 
toms, and the remedy should be steadily pursued for 
many weeks. 

The tincture should be made of saturated strength 
with spirit of wine on the bruised acorns, to stand for a 
fortnight before being decanted. Then the dose will be 
from twenty to thirty drops with water three or four 
times a day. 

The Acorn contains chemically starch, a fixed oil, 
citric acid, uncrystallizable sugar, and another special 
sugar called " quercit." 

Acorns, Avhen roasted and powdered, have been 
sometimes employed as a fair substitute for coffee. By 
distillation they will yield an ardent spirit. 

Dr. Burnett strongly commends a " distilled spirit of 
acorns " as an antidote to the effects of alcohol, where 
the spleen and kidneys have already suffered, with 
induced dropsy. It acts on the principle of similars, 
ten drops being given three times a day in water. 

In certain parts of Europe it is customary to place 
acorns in the hands of the newly dead ; whilst in other 
districts an apple is put into the palm of a child when 
lying in its little coffin. 

The bark of an oak tree, and the galls, or apples, 
produced on its leaves, or twigs, by an insect named 



cynips, are very astringent, by reason of the gallo-tannic 
acid which they furnish abundantly. This acid, given 
as a drug, or the strong decoction of oak bark which 
contains it, will serve to restrain bleedings if taken 
internally ; and finely powdered oak bark, when inhaled 
pretty frequently, has proved very beneficial against 
consumption of the lungs in its early stages. Working 
tanners are well known to be particularly exempt from 
this disease, probably through their constantly inhaling 
the peculiar aroma given off from the tan pits ; and 
a like effect may be produced by using as snuff the 
fresh oak bark dried and reduced to an impalpable 
powder, or by inhaling day after day the steam given 
off from recent oak bark infused in boiling water. 

Marble galls are formed on the back of young twigs, 
artichoke galls at their extremities, and currant galls by 
spangles on the under surface of the leaves. From 
these spangles females presently emerge, and lay their 
eggs on the catkins, giving rise to the round shining 
currant galls. 

The Oak — Quercus rohur — is so named from the Celtic 
" quer," beautiful; and " cuez," a tree. " Drus," another 
Celtic word for tree, and particularly for the Oak, gave 
rise to the terms Dryads and Druids. Among the 
Creeks and Eomans a chaplet of oak was one of the 
highest honours which could be conferred on a citizen. 
Ancient oaks exist in several parts of England, which 
are traditionally called Cospel oaks, because it was the 
practice in times long past when beating the bounds 
of a parish to read a portion of the Gospel on Ascension 
Day beneath an oak tree which was growing on the 
boundary line of the district. Cross oaks were planted 
at the juncture of cross roads, so that persons suffering 
from ague might peg a lock of their hair into the 




trunks, and by wrenching themselves away might leave 
the hair and the malady in the tree together. A 
strong decoction of oak bark is most usefully applied 
for prolapse of the lower bowel. 

Oak Apple day (Ma}^ 29th) is called in Hampshire 
" Shikshak " day. 


The Agrimony is a Simple well known to all country 
folk, and abundant throughout England in the fields 
and woods, as a popular domestic medicinal herb. It 
belongs to the Rose order of plants, and blossoms from 
June to September with small yellow flowers, which sit 
close along slender spikes a foot high, pmelling like 
apricots, and called by the rustics " Church Steeples." 
Botanically it bears the names Agriinonia Eupatoria^ of 
which the first is derived from the Greek, and means 
" shining," because the herb is thought to cure cataract 
of the eye ; and the second bears reference to the 
liver, as indicating the use of this plant for curing 
diseases of that organ. Chemists have determined that 
the Agrimony possesses a particular volatile oil, and 
yields nearly five per cent, of tannin, so that its use in 
the cottage for gargles, and as an astringent application 
to indolent wounds, is well justified. The herb does 
not seem really to own any qualities for acting medici- 
nally on the liver. More probably the yellow colour of 
its flowers, which, with the root, furnish a dye of a bright 
nankeen hue, has given it a reputation in bilious dis- 
orders, according to the doctrine of signatures, because 
the bile is also yellow. Nevertheless, Gerard says : 
" A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have 
naughty livers." By pouring a pint of boiling water on 
a handful of the plant — stems, flowers and leaves — an 



excellent gargle may be made for a relaxed throat ; and 
a teacupful of the same infusion may be taken cold 
three or four times in the day for simple looseness of 
the bowels ; also for passive losses of blood. In France, 
Agrimony tea is drank as a beverage at table. This 
herb formed an ingredient of the genuine arquebusade 
water, as prepared against wounds inflicted by an 
arquebus, or hand-gun, and it was mentioned by Philip 
de Comines in his account of the battle of Morat, 1476. 
When the Yeomen of the Guard were first formed in 
England — 1485 — half were armed with bows and arrows, 
whilst the other half carried arquebuses. In France 
the eau de arquebusade is still applied for sprains and 
bruises, being carefully made from many aromatic 
herbs. Agrimony was at one time included in the 
London Materia Medica as a vulnerary herb. It bears 
the title of Cockleburr, or Stickle wort, because its seed 
vessels cling by the hooked ends of their stiff hairs to 
any person or animal coming into contact with the plant. 
A strong decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened 
with honey, has been taken successfully to cure scrofu- 
lous sores, being administered two or three times a day 
in doses of a wineglassful persistently for several 
months. Perhaps the special volatile oil of the plant, 
in common with that contained in other herbs similarly 
aromatic, is curatively antiseptic. Pliny called it a 
herb " of princely authoritie." 

The Hemp Agrimony, or St. John's Herb, belongs to 
the Composite order of plants, and grows on the margins 
of brooks, having hemp-like leaves, which are bitter of 
taste and pungent of smell, as if it were an umbelliferous 
herb. Because of these hempen leaves it was formerly 
called " Holy Eope," being thus named after the rope 
with which Jesus was bound. They contain a volatile 


oil, which acts on the kidneys ; likewise some tannin, 
and a bitter chemical principle, which will cut short the 
chill of intermittent fever, or perhaps prevent it. 
Provers of the plant have found it produce a " bilious 
fever," with severe headache, redness of the face, nausea, 
soreness over the liver, constipation, and high-coloured 
urine. Acting on which experience, a tincture, prepared 
(H.) from the whole plant, may be confidently given 
in frequent small well-diluted doses with water for 
influenza, or for a similar f-everish chill, with break- 
bone pains, prostration, hot dry skin, and some bilious 
vomiting. Likewise a tea made with boiling water 
poured on the dried leaves will give prompt relief if 
taken hot at the onset of a bilious catarrh, or of 
influenza. This plant also is named Eu])atorium because 
it refers, as Pliny says, to Eupator, a king of Pontus. 
In Holland it is used for jaundice, with swollen feet : 
and in America it belongs to the tribe of hone-sets. 
The Hemp Agrimony grows with us in moist, shady 
places, with a tall reddish stem, and with terminal 
crowded heads of dull lilac flowers. Its distinctive 
title is Cannabinum, or " Hempen," whilst by some it is 
known as " Thorough wort." 

ANEMONE (Wood). 

The JVood Anemone, or medicinal English Pulsatilla, 
with its lovely pink white petals, and drooping blossoms, 
is one of our best known and most beautiful spring 
flowers. Herbalists do not distinguish it virtually from 
the silky-haired Anemone Pulsatilla, which medicinal 
variety is of highly valuable modern curative use as a 
Herbal Simple. The active chemical principles of each 
plant are " anemonin " and " anemonic acid." A tinc- 
ture is made (H.) with spirit of wine from the entire 



plant, collected when in flower. This tincture is 
remarkably beneficial in disorders of the mucous mem- 
branes, alike of the respiratory and of the digestive 
passages. For mucous indigestion following a heavy 
or rich meal the tincture of Pulsatilla is almost a specific 
remedy. Three or four drops thereof should be given 
at once with a tablespoonful of water, hot or cold, and 
the same dose may be repeated after an hour if then 
still needed. For catarrhal affections of the eyes and 
the ears, as well as for catarrhal diarrhoea, the tincture 
is very serviceable ; also for female monthly difficulties 
its use is always beneficial and safe. As a medicine it 
best suits persons of a mild, gentle disposition, and of a 
lymphatic constitution, especially females ; it is less 
appropriate for quick, excitable, energetic men. Ane- 
monin, or Pulsatilla Camphor, which is the active 
principle of this plant, is prepared by the chemist, and 
may be given in doses of from one fiftieth to one tenth 
of a grain rubbed up with dry sugar of milk. Such a 
dose (or a drop of the tincture with a tablespoonful of 
water), given every two or three hours, will soon relieve 
a swollen testicle ; and the tincture still more diluted 
will ease the bladder difficulties of old men. Further- 
more, the tincture, in doses of two or three drops with 
a spoonful of water, will allay spasmodic cough, as of 
whooping cough, or bronchitis. The vinegar of Wood 
Anemone made from the leaves retains all the more 
acrid properties of the plant, and is put, in France, to 
many rural domestic purposes. AVhen applied in lotions 
every night for five or six times consecutively, it will 
heal indolent ulcers ; and its rubefacient effects serve 
instead of those produced externally by mustard. If a 
teaspoonful is sprinkled within the palms and its volatile 
vapours are inhaled through the mouth and nose, this 



will dispel an incipient catarrh. The name Pulsatilla 
is a diminutive of the Latin puis, a pottage, as made 
from pulse, and used at sacrificial feasts. The title 
Anemone signifies " wind-flower." Pliny says this 
flower never opens but when the wind is blowing. 
The title has been misapprehended as "an emony." 
Turner says gardeners call the flowers " emonies " ; and 
Tennyson, in his " Northern Farmer," tells of the dead 
keeper being found " doon in the woild enemies afoor I 
comed to the plaice." Other names of the plant are 
Wood Crowfoot Smell Fox (Hants), and Flawfiower. 
Alfred Austin says, " With windflower honey are my 
tresses smoothed." It is also called the Passover Flower, 
because blossoming at Easter ; and it belongs to the 
Ranunculaceous order of plants. The flower of the 
Wood Anemone tells the approach of night, or of a 
shower, by curling over its petals like a tent; and it has 
been said that fairies nestle within, having first pulled 
the curtains round them. Among the old Romans, to 
gather the first Anemone of the year was deemed a 
preservative against fever. The Pasque flower, also 
named Bluemoney and Easter, or Dane's flower, is of a 
violet blue, growing in chalky pastures, and less common 
than the Wood Anemone, but each possesses equally 
curative virtues. 

The seed of the Anemone being very light and 
downy, is blown away by the first breeze of wind. A 
ready-witted French senator took advantage of this fact 
while visiting Bacheliere, a covetous florist, near Paris, 
who had long held a secret monopoly of certain richly- 
coloured and splendidly handsome anemones from the 
East. Vexed to see one man hoard up for himself what 
ought to be more widely distributed, he walked and 
talked with the florist in his garden when the anemone 



plants were in seed. Whilst thus occupied, he let fall 
his robe, as if by accident, upon the flowers, and so 
swept off a number of the little feathery seed vessels 
which clung to his dependent garment, and which he 
afterwards cultivated at home. The petals of the 
Pasque flower yield a rich green colour, which is used 
for staining Easter eggs, this festival having been termed 
Pask time in old works, from "paske," a crossing-over. 
The plant is said to grow best with iron in the soil. 

ANGELICA (also called MASTER- WORT). 

The wild Angelica grows commonly throughout 
England in wet places as an umbelliferous plant, with a 
tall hollow stem, out of which boys like to make pipes. 
It is purple, furrowed, and downy, bearing white flowers 
tinged with pink. But the herb is not useful as a 
simple until cultivated in our gardens, the larger 
variety being chosen for this purpose, and bearing the 
name Archangelica. 

" Angelica, the happy counterbane, 
Sent down from heaven by some celestial scout, 
As well its name and nature both avow't." 

It came to this country from northern latitudes in 1568. 
The aromatic stems are grown abundantly near London 
in moist fields for the use of confectioners. These 
stems, when candied, are sold as a favourite sweetmeat. 
They are grateful to the feeble stomach, and will 
relieve flatulence promptly. The roots of the garden 
Angelica contain plentifully a peculiar resin called 
" angelicin," which is stimulating to the lungs, and to 
the skin : they smell pleasantly of musk, being an 
excellent tonic and carminative. An infusion of the 
plant may be made by pouring a pint of boiling water 
on an ounce of the bruised root, and two tablespoonfuls 



of this should be given three or four times in the day ; 
or the powdered root may be administered in doses of 
from ten to thirty grains. The infusion will relieve 
flatulent stomach-ache, and will promote menstruation 
if retarded. It is also of use as a stinnilating bronchial 
tonic in the catarrh of aged and feeble persons. 
Angelica, taken in either medicinal form, is said to 
cause a disgust for spirituous liquors. In high Dutch it 
is named the root of the Holy Ghost. The fruit is 
employed for flavouring some cordials, notably Char- 
treme. If an incision is made in the bark of the stems, 
and the crown of the root, at the commencement of 
spring, a resinous gum exudes with a special aromatic 
flavour as of musk or benzoin, for either of which it 
can be sul)stituted. Gerard says : " If you do but take 
a piece of the root, and hold it in your mouth, or chew 
the same between your teeth, it doth most certainly 
drive away pestilent aire." Icelanders eat both the 
stem and the roots raw with butter. These parts of 
the plant, if wounded, yield a yellow juice which 
becomes, when dried, a valuable medicine beneficial in 
chronic rheumatism and gout. Some have said the 
Archangel ica was revealed in a dream by an angel to 
cure the plague ; others aver that it blooms on the day 
of Michael the Archangel (May 8th, old style), and is 
therefore a preservative against evil spirits and witch- 


The Anise {Pinipimdla), from "bipenella," because of 
its secondary, feather- like leaflets, belongs to the 
umbelliferous plants, and is cultivated in our gardens ; 
but its aromatic seeds chiefly come from Germany. 
The careful housewife will do well always to have a 



supply of this most useful Simple closely bottled in 
her store cupboard. The herb is a variety of the 
Burnet Saxifrage, and yields an essential oil of a fine 
blue colour. To make the essence of Aniseed one part 
of the oil should be mixed with four parts of spirit of 
wine. This oil, by its chemical basis, "anethol," repre- 
sents the medicinal properties of the plant. It has a 
special influence on the bronchial tubes to encourage 
expectoration, particularly with children. For infantile 
catarrh, after its first feverish stage. Aniseed tea is very 
useful. It should be made by pouring half-a-pint of 
boiling water on two teaspoonfuls of the seeds, bruised 
in a mortar, and given when cold in doses of one, two, 
or three teaspoonfuls, according to the age of the child. 
For the relief of flatulent stomach-ache, whether in 
children or in adults, from five to fifteen drops of the 
essence may be given on a lump of sugar, or mixed with 
two dessertspoonfuls of hot water. Gerard says : "The 
Aniseed helpeth the yeoxing, or hicket (hiccough), and 
should be given to young children to eat which are like 
to have the falling sickness, or to such as have it by patri- 
mony or succession." The odd literary mistake has 
been sometimes made of regarding Aniseed as a plural 
noun : thus, in " The Englishman's Doctor," it is said, 
" Some anny seeds be sweet, and some bitter." An old 
epithet of the Anise was, Solamen intestinorum — " The 
comforter of the bowels." The Germans have an almost 
superstitious belief in the medicinal virtues of Aniseed, 
and all their ordinary household bread is plentifully 
flavoured with the whole seeds. The mustaceoe, or 
spiced cakes of the Eomans, introduced at the close of 
a rich entertainment, to prevent indigestion, consisted 
of meal, with anise, cummin, and other aromatics used 
for staying putrescence or fermentation within the 



intestines. Such a cake was commonly brought in at 
the end of a marriage feast ; and hence the bridecake 
of modern times has taken its origin, though the result 
of eating this is rather to provoke dyspepsia than to 
prevent it. Formerly, in the East, these seeds were in 
use as part payment of taxes : " Ye pay tithe of mint, 
anise [dill and cummin ! " The oil destroys lice and 
the itch insect, for which purpose it may be mixed with 
lard or spermaceti as an ointment. The seed has been 
used for smoking, so as to promote expectoration. 

Besides containing the volatile oil. Aniseed yields 
phosphates, malates, gum, and a resin. The leaves, if 
applied externally, will help to remove freckles ; and, 
" Let me tell you this," says a practical writer of the 
present day, " if you are suffering from bronchitis, with 
attacks of spasmodic asthma, just send for a bottle of 
the liqueur called ' Anisette,' and take a dram of it with 
a little water. You will find it an immediate palliative ; 
you will cease barking like Cerberus ; you will be 
soothed, and go to sleep." — Experto crede I " I have 
been bronchitic and asthmatic for twenty years, and 
have never known an alleviative so immediately effica- 
cious as ' Anisette.' " 

For the restlessness of languid digestion, a dose of 
essence of Aniseed in hot water at bedtime is much to 
be commended. In the Paregoric Elixir, or "Compound 
Tincture of Camphor," prescribed as a sedative cordial 
by doctors (and containing some opium), the oil of Anise 
is also included — thirty drops in a pint of the tincture. 
This oil is of capital service as a bait for mice. 


The term " Apple " was applied by the ancients indis- 
criminately to almost every kind of round fleshy fruit. 



such as the thornapple, the pineapple, and the love- 
apple. Paris gave to Venus a golden apple ; Atalanta 
lost her classic race by staying to pick up an apple ; the 
fruit of the Hesperides, guarded by a sleepless dragon, 
were golden apples ; and through the same fruit befell 
"man's first disobedience," bringing "death into the world 
and all our woe " (concerning which the old Hebrew 
myth runs that the apple of Eden, as the first fermentable 
fruit known to mankind, was the beginner of intoxicating 
drinks, which led to the knowledge of good and evil). 

Nothing need be said here about the Apple as an 
esculent ; we have only to deal with this eminently 
English, and most serviceable fruit in its curative and 
remedial aspects. Chemically, the Apple is composed 
of vegetable fibre, albumen, sugar, gum, chlorophyll, 
malic acid, gallic acid, lime, and much water. Further- 
more, German analysts say that the Apple contains 
a larger percentage of phosphorus than any other fruit 
or vegetable. This phosphorus is specially adapted for 
renewing the essential nervous " lethicin " of the brain 
and spinal cord. Old Scandinavian traditions represent 
the Apple as the food of the gods, who, when they felt 
themselves growing feeble and infirm, resorted to this 
fruit for renewing their powers of mind and body. Also 
the acids of the Apple are of signal use for men of 
sedentary habits, whose livers are sluggish of action ; 
they help to eliminate from the body noxious matters, 
which, if retained, would make the brain heavy and 
dull, or produce jaundice, or skin eruptions, or other 
allied troubles. Some experience of this sort has led to 
the custom of our taking Apple sauce with roast pork, 
roast goose, and similar rich dishes. The malic acid of 
ripe Apples, raw or cooked, will neutralize the chalkj^ 
matter engendered in gouty subjects, particularly from 


ail excess of meat eating. A good, ripe, raw Apple is 
one of the easiest of vegetable substances for the stomach 
to deal with, the Avhole process of its digestion being 
completed in eighty-five minutes. Furihermore, a 
certain aromatic principle is possessed b}^ the Apple, on 
which its peculiar flavour depends, this being a fragrant 
essential oil — the valerianate of amyl — in a small but 
appreciable quantity. It can be made artificially by 
the chemist, and used for imparting the flavour of apples 
to sweetmeats and confectionery. Gerard found that 
" the pulp of roasted Apples, mixed in a wine quart of 
faire water, and laboured together until it comes to be 
as Apples and ale — which we call lambswool (Celtic, 
' the day of Apple fruit ')— never faileth in certain 
diseases of the raines, which myself hath often proved, 
and gained thereby both crownes and credit." Also, 
The paring of an Apple cut somewhat thick, and the 
inside whereof is laid to hot, burning or running eyes 
at night when the party goes to bed, and is tied or 
bound to the same, doth help the trouble very speedily, 
and, contrary to expectation, an excellent secret." A 
poultice made of rotten Apples is commonly used in 
Lincolnshire for the cure of weak, or rheumatic eyes. 
Likewise in the Hotel des Invalides, at Paris, an Apple 
poultice is employed for inflamed eyes, the apple being 
roasted, and its pulp applied over the eyes without 
any intervening substance To obviate constipation two 
or three Apples taken at night, whether baked or raw, 
are admirably efficient. It was said long ago : " They 
do easily and speedily pass through the belly, therefore 
they do mollify the belly," and for this reason a modern 
maxim teaches that : — 

" To eat an Apple going to bed 
Will make the doctor beg his bread." 



There was concocted in Gerard's day an ointment 
with the pulpe of Apples, and swine's grease, and rose- 
water, which was used to beautifie the face, and to take 
away the roughnesse of the skin, and which was called in 
the shops "pomatum," from the apples, "poma," whereof 
it was prepared. As varieties of the Apple, mention is 
made in documents of the twelfth century, of the pear- 
main, and the costard, from the latter of which has come 
the word costardmonger, as at first a dealer in this fruit, 
and now applied to our costermonger. Caracioli, an 
Italian writer, declared that the only ripe fruit he met 
with in Britain was a baked apple. The juices of Apples 
are matured and lose their rawness by keeping the fruit 
a certain time. These juices, together with those of the 
pear, the peach, the plum, and other . such fruits, if 
taken without adding cane sugar, diminish acidity in 
the stomach rather than provoke it : they become con- 
verted chemically into alkaline carbonates, which correct 
sour fermentation. It is said in Devonshire that apples 
shrump up if picked when the moon is on the wane. 
From the bark of the stem and root of the apple, pear 
and plum trees, a glucoside is to be obtained in small 
crystals, which possesses the peculiar property of 
producing artificial diabetes in animals to whom it is 

The juice of a sour Apple, if rubbed on warts first 
pared away to the quick, will serve to cure them. The 
wild " Scrab," or Crab Apple, armed with thorns, grows 
in our fields and hedgerows, furnishing verjuice, which 
is rich in tannin, and a most useful application for old 
sprains. In the United States of America an infusion 
of apple tree bark is given with benefit during inter- 
mittent, remittent, and bilious fevers. We likewise 
prescribe Apple water as a grateful cooling drink for 



feverish patients. Francatelli directs that it should be 
made thus : " Slice up thinly three or four Apples 
without peeling them, and boil them in a very clean 
saucepan, with a quart of water and a little sugar until 
the slices of apple become soft ; the apple water must 
then be strained through a piece of muslin, or clean 
rag, into a jug, and drank when cold." If desired, a 
small piece of the yellow rind of a lemon may be 
added, just enough to give it a flavour. 

About the year 1562 a certain rector of St. Ives, in 
Cornwall, the Rev. Mr. Attwell, practised physic with 
milk and Apples so successfully in many diseases, and 
so spread his reputation, that numerous sufl'erers came 
to him from all the neighbouring counties. In Germany 
ripe Apples are applied to warts for removing them, by 
reason of the earthy salts, particularly the magnesia, of 
the fruit. It is a fact, though not generally known, 
that magnesia, as occurring in ordinary Epsom salts, 
will cure obstinate warts, and the disposition thereto. 
Just a few grains, from three to six, not enough to 
produce any sensible medicinal effect, taken once a day 
for three or four weeks, will surely dispel a crop of 
warts. Old cheese ameliorates Apples if eaten when 
crude, probably by reason of the volatile alkali, or 
ammonia of the cheese neutralizing the acids of the 
Apple. Many persons make a practice of eating cheese 
with Apple i^ie. The " core " of an Apple is so named 
from the French word, cceui\ " heart." 

The juice of the cultivated Apple made by fer- 
mentation into cider, which means literally "strong 
drink," was pronounced by John Evelyn, in his Pomona, 
1729, to be "in a word the most wholesome drink 
in Europe, as specially sovereign against the scor- 
bute, the stone, spleen, and what not." This beverage 



contains alcohol (on the average a little over five per 
cent.), gum, sugar, mineral matters, and several acids, 
among which the malic predominates. As an habitual 
drink, if sweet, it is apt to provoke acid fermentation 
with a gouty subject, and to develop rheumatism. 
Nevertheless, Dr. Nash, of Worcester, attributed to 
cider great virtues in leading to longevity ; and a 
Herefordshire vicar bears witness to its superlative 
merits thus : — 

" All the Gallic wines are not so boon 
As hearty cider ; — that strong son of wood 
In fullest tides refines and purges blood ; 
Becomes a known Bethesda, whence arise 
Full certain cures for spittall maladies : 
Death slowly can the citadel invade ; 
A draught of this bedulls his scythe, and spade." 

Medical testimony goes to show that in countries 
where cider — ^not of the sweet sort — ^is the common 
beverage, stone, or calculus, is unknown ; and a series 
of enquiries among the doctors of Normandy, a great 
Apple country, where cider is the principal, if not the 
sole drink, brought to light the fact that not a single 
case had been met with there in forty years. Cider 
Apples were introduced by the Normans ; and the 
beverage began to be brewed in 1284. The Hereford 
orchards were first planted " tempore " Charles I. 

A chance case of stone in the bladder if admitted into 
a Devonshire or a Herefordshire Hospital, is regarded by 
the surgeons there as a sort of professional curiosity, 
probably imported from a distance. So that it may be 
fairly surmised that the habitual use of natural un- 
sweetened cider keeps held in solution materials which 
are otherwise liable to be separated in a solid form 
by the kidneys. 

Pippins are apples which have been raised from pips ; 



a codling is an apple which requires to be " coddled," 
stewed, or lightly boiled, being yet sour and unfit for 
eating whilst raw. The John Apple, or Apple John, 
ripens on St. John's Day, December 27th. It keeps 
sound for two years, but becomes very shrunken. Sir 
John FalstafF says {Henry IF., iii. 3) " Withered like an 
old Apple John." The squab pie, famous in Cornwall, 
contains apples and onions allied with mutton. 
"Of wlieaten walls erect youu paste: 

Let the round mass extend its breast; 

Next slice your apples picked so fresh ; 

Let the fat sheep supply its flesh : 

Then add an onion's pungent juice— 

A sprinkling -be not too profuse ! 

Well mixt, these nice ingredients — sure ! 

May gratify an epicure." 

In America, " Apple Slump " is a pie consisting of 
apples, molasses, and bread crumbs baked in a tin pan. 
This is known to New Englanders as " Pan Dowdy." 
An agreeable bread was at one time made by an in- 
genious Frenchman which consisted of one third of 
apples boiled, and two-thirds of wheaten flour. 

It was through the falling of an apple in the garden 
of Mrs. Conduitt at Woolthorpe, near Grantham, Sir 
Isaac Newton was led to discover the great law of 
gravitation which regulates the whole universe. Again, 
it was an apple the patriot William Tell shot from the head 
of his own bright boy with one arrow, whilst reserving 
a second for the heart of a tyrant. Dr. Prior says the 
word Apple took its origin from the Sanskrit, Ap., — 
"water," and P'lial, — -"fruit," meaning "water fruit," 
or " juice fruit " ; and with this the Latin name Pomum — 
from Poto, " to drink " — precisely agrees ; if which 
be so, our apple must have come originally from the 
East long ages back. 



The term "Apple-pie order" is derived from the 
French phrase, aplis, " in plaits," folded in regular plaits ; 
or, perhaps, from cap It ined, "armed from head to foot," 
in perfect order. Likewise the " Apple-pie bed " is so 
called from the French a plis, or it may be from the 
Apple turnover of Devon and Cornwall, as made with 
the paste turned over on itself. 

The botanical name of an apple tree is Pyrus Malus, 
of which schoolboys are wont to make ingenious uses by 
playing on the latter word. Malo, I had rather be ; 
Malo, in an Apple tree ; Malo, than a wicked man ; 
Malo, in adversity. Or, again, 3Ica mater mala est sus, 
which bears the easy translation, " My mother is a 
wicked old sow " ; but the intentional reading of which 
signifies " Run, mother ! the sow is eating the apples." 
The term " Adam's Apple," which is applied to the 
most prominent part of a person's throat in front is 
based on the superstition that a piece of the forbidden 
fruit stuck in Adam's throat, and caused this lump to 


The " lords and ladies {aru/in macidatum) so well 
known to every rustic as common throughout Spring in 
almost every hedge row, has acquired its name from the 
colour of its erect pointed spike enclosed within the 
curled hood of an upright arrow-shaped leaf. This is 
purple or cream hued, according to the accredited sex of 
the plant. It bears further the titles of Cuckoo Pint, 
Wake Kobin, Parson in the Pulpit, Rampe, Starchwort, 
Arrowroot, Gethsemane, Bloody Fingers, Snake's Meat, 
Adam and Eve, Calfsfoot, Aaron, and Priest's Pintle. 
The red spots on its glossy emerald arrow-head leaves, 
are attributed to the dropping of our Saviour's blood on 




the plant whilst growing at the foot of the cross. 
Several of the above appellations bear reference to the 
stimulating effects of the herb on the sexual organs. 
Its tuberous root has been found to contain a particular 
volatile acrid principle which exercises distinct medicinal 
effects, though these are altogether dissipated if the 
roots are subjected to heat by boiling or baking. 
When tasted, the fresh juice causes an acrid burning 
irritation of the mouth and throat ; also, if swallowed it 
will produce a red raw state of the palate and tongue, 
with cracked lips. The leaves, when applied externally 
to a delicate skin will blister it. Accordingly a tincture 
made (H.) from the plant and its root proves curative 
in diluted doses for a chronic sore throat, with swollen 
mucous membrane, and vocal hoarseness, such as is often 
known as " Clergyman's Sore Throat," and likewise for 
a feverish sore mouth, as well as for an irresistible 
tendency to sleepiness, and heaviness after a full meal. 
From five to ten drops of the tincture, third decimal 
strength, should be given with a tablespoonful of cold 
water to an adult three times a day. An ointment 
made by stewing the fresh sliced root with lard serves 
efficiently for the cure of ringworm. 

The fresh juice yields malate of lime, whilst the plant 
contains gum, sugar, starch and fat. The name Arum is 
derived from the Hebrew /cwm, "a dart," in allusion to 
the shape of the leaves like spear heads ; or, as some 
think, from am\ " fire," because of the acrid juice. 
The adjective maculatum refers to the dark spots or 
patches which are seen on the smooth shining leaves of 
the plant. These leaves have sometimes proved fatal to 
children who have mistaken them for sorrel. The 
brilliant scarlet coral-like berries which are found set 
closely about the erect spike of the arum in the autumn 



are known to country lads as adder's meat — a name 
corrupted from the Anglo-Saxon attor, " poison," as 
originally applied to these berries, though it is remark- 
able that pheasants can eat them with impunity. 

In Queen Elizabeth's time the Arum was known as 
starch-wort because the roots were then used for supply- 
ing pure white starch to stiffen the ruffs and frills worn 
at that time by gallants'and ladies. This was obtained 
by boiling or baking the roots, and thus dispelling their 
acridity. When dried and powdered the root constitutes 
the French cosmetic, " Cypress Powder." Recently a 
patented drug, " Tonga," has obtained considerable 
notoriety for curing obstinate neuralgia of the head and 
face — this turning out to be the dried scraped stem of an 
aroid (or arum) called Raphidophora Vitiensis, be- 
longing to the Fiji Islands. Acting on the knowledge of 
which fact some recent experimenters have tried the 
fresh juice expressed from our common Arum Macula- 
tum in a severe case of neuralgia which could be relieved 
previously only by Tonga : and it was found that this 
juice in doses of a teaspoonful gave similar relief. The 
British Domestic Herbal, of Sydenham's time, describes 
a case of alarming dropsy, with great constitutional ex- 
haustion treated most successfully with a medicine com- 
posed of Arum and Angelica, which cured in about 
three weeks. The "English Passion Flower" and 
"Portland Sago" are other names given to the Arum 


The Asparagus, belonging to the Lily order of plants, 
occurs wild on the coasts of Essex, Suffolk, and Corn- 
wall. It is there a more prickly plant than the cultivated 
vegetable which we grow for the sake of the tender. 



edible shoots. The Greeks and Romans vahied it for 
their tables, and boiled it so quickly that velocius 
qiiam asparagi coquuntur — faster than asparagus is 
cooked " — was a proverb with them, to which our 
"done in a jiffy" closely corresponds. The shoots, 
whether wild or cultivated, are succulent, and contain 
wax, albumen, acetate of potash, phosphate of potash, 
mannite, a green resin, and a fixed principle named 
" asparagin." This asparagin stimulates the kidneys, 
and imparts a peculiar, strong smell to the urine after 
taking the shoots ; at the same time, the green resin 
with which the asparagin is combined, exercises gently 
sedative effects on the heart, calming palpitation, or 
nervous excitement of that organ. Though not pro- 
ducing actual sugar in the urine, asparagus forms and 
excretes a substance therein which answers to the 
reactions used by physicians for detecting sugar, except 
the fermentation test. It may fairly be given in diabetes 
with a promise of useful results. In Russia it is a 
domestic medicine for the arrest of flooding. 

Asparagin also bears the chemical name of " althein," 
and occurs in crystals, which may be reduced to powder, 
and which may likewise be got from the roots of marsh 
mallow, and liquorice. One grain of this given three 
times a day is of service for relieving dropsy from dis- 
ease of the heart. Likewise, a medicinal tincture is made 
(H.) from the whole plant, of which eight or ten drops 
given with a tablespoonful of water three times a day will 
also allay urinary irritation, whilst serving to do good 
against rheumatic gout. A syrup of asparagus is em- 
ployed medicinally in France : and at Aix-les-Bains it 
forms part of the cure for rheumatic patients to eat 
Asparagus. The roots of Asparagus contain diuretic 
virtues more abundantly than the shoots. An infusion 



made from these roots will assist against jaundice, and 
congestive torpor of the liver. The shrubby stalks of 
the plant bear red, coral-like berries which, when ripe, 
yield grape sugar, and spargancin. Though generally 
thought to branch out into feathery leaves, these are 
only ramified stalks substituted by the plant when 
growing on an arid sandy soil, where no moisture could 
be got for the maintenance of leaves. The berries are 
attractive to small birds, who swallow them whole, 
and afterwards void the seeds, to germinate when thus 
scattered about. Thus there is some valid reason for the 
vulgar corruption of the title Asparagus into Sparrow- 
grass, or Grass. Botanically the plant is a lily which 
has seen better days. In the United States of America, 
Asparagus is thought to be undeniably sedative, and 
a palliative in all heart affections attended with excited 
action of the pulse. The water in which asparagus has 
been boiled, if drunk, though somewhat disagreeable, 
is beneficial against rheumatism. The cellular tissue of 
the plant furnishes a substance similar to sago. In 
Venice, the wild asparagus is served at table, but it is 
stronoj in flavour and less succulent than the cultivated 
sort. Mortimer Collins makes Sir Clare, one of his 
characters in Glarisse say : " Liebig, or some other 
scientist maintains that asparagin — the alkaloid in 
asparagus — develops form in the human brain : so, if you 
get hold of an artistic child, and give him plenty of 
asparagus, he will grow into a second Kaffaelle ! " 

Gerard calls the plant " Sperage," "which is easily 
concocted when eaten, and doth gently loose the belly." 
Our name, " Asparagus," is derived from a Greek word 
signifying " the tearer," in allusion to the spikes of some 
species ; or perhaps from the Persian " Spurgas," a 



John Evelyn, in his Book of Salads, derives the 
term Asparagus in easy fashion, ab asperitate, " from the 
sharpness of the plant." " Nothing," says he, " next to 
flesh is more nourishing ; but in this country we over- 
boil them, and dispel their volatile salts : the water 
should boil before they are put in." He tells of aspara- 
gus raised at Battersea in a natural, sweet, and well- 
cultivated soil, sixteen of which (each one weighing 
about four ounces) were made a present to his wife, 
showing what " solum, coelum, and industry will effect." 
The Asparagus first came into use as a food about 
200 B.C., in the time of the elder Cato, and Augustus 
was very partial to it. The wild Asparagus was called 
Lybicum, and by the Athenians, Horminium. Roman 
cooks used to dry the shoots, and when required these 
were thrown into hot water, and boiled for a few minutes 
to make them look fresh and green. Gerard advises 
that asparagus should be sodden in flesh broth, and 
eaten ; or boiled in fair water, seasoned with oil, pepper, 
and vinegar, being served up as a salad. Our ancestors 
in Tudor times ate the whole of the stalks with spoons. 
Swift's patron. Sir William Temple, who had been 
British Minister at the Hague, brought the art of 
Asparagus culture from Holland ; and when William HI. 
visited Sir William at Moor Park, where young Jonathan 
was domiciled as Secretary, his Majesty is said to have 
taught the future Dean of St. Patrick's how to eat 
asparagus in the Dutch style. Swift afterwards at his 
own table refused a second helping of the vegetable to a 
guest until the stalks had been devoured, alleging that 
" King William always ate his stalks." When the large 
white asparagus first came into vogue, it was known as 
the " New Vegetable." This was grown with lavish 
manure and was called Dutch Asparagus. For 



cooking the stalks should be cut of equal lengths, and 
boiled standing upwards in a deep saucepan with nearly 
two inches of the heads out of the water. Then the 
steam will suffice to cook these tender parts, whilst the 
hard stalky portions may be boiled long enough to 
become soft and succulently wholesome. Two sorts of 
asparagus are now grown — the one an early kind, pinkish 
white, cultivated in France and the Channel Islands ; 
the other green and English. At Kynance Cove in 
Cornwall, there is an island called Asparagus Island, 
from the abundance in which the plant is found there. 

In connection with this popular vegetable may be 
quoted the following riddle : — 

"What killed a queen to love inclined, 
What on a beggar oft we find, 
Show — to ourselves if aptly joined, 
A plant which we in bundles bind." 


Thj] herb Balm, or Melissa, which is cultivated quite 
commonly in our cottage gardens, has its origin in the 
wild, or bastard Balm, growing in our woods, especially 
in the South of England, and bearing the name of 

Mellitis." Each is a labiate plant, and "Bawme," 
say the Arabians, " makes the heart merry and joyful." 
The title, " Balm," is an abbreviation of Balsam, which 
signifies " the chief of sweet-smelling oils ; " Hebrew, 
Bal smin, " chief of oils " ; and the botanical suffix, Melissa, 
bears reference to the large quantity of honey (mel) con- 
tained in the flowers of this herb. 

When cultivated, it yields from its leaves and tops an 
essential oil which includes a chemical principle, or 

stearopten." "The juice of Balm," as Cerard tells us, 
'' glueth together greene wounds," and the leaves, say 



both Pliny and Dioscorides, " being applied, do close 
up woundes without any perill of inflammation." It is 
now known as a scientific fact that the balsamic oils of 
aromatic plants make most excellent surgical dressings. 
They give off ozone, and thus exercise anti-putrescent 
effects. Moreover, as chemical " hydro-carbons," they 
contain so little oxygen, that in wounds dressed with 
the fixed balsamic herbal oils, the atomic germs of 
disease are starved out. Furthermore, the resinous 
parts of these balsamic oils, as they dry upon the sore or 
wound, seal it up, and effectually exclude all noxious 
air. 80 the essential oils of balm, peppermint, lavender, 
and the like, with pine oil, resin of turpentine, and the 
balsam of benzoin (Friars' Balsam) should serve ad- 
mirably for ready application on lint or fine rag to cuts 
and superficial sores. In domestic surgery, the lamen- 
tation of Jeremiah falls to the ground: "Is there no 
balm in Gilead : is there no physician there ? " 
Concerning which " balm of Gilead," it m iy be here 
told that it was formerly of great esteem in the East as 
a medicine, and as a fragrant unguent. It was the true 
balsam of Judea, which at one time grew nowhere else 
in the whole world but at Jericho. But when the Turks 
took the Holy Land, they transplanted this balsam to 
Grand Cairo, and guarded its shrubs most jealously by 
Janissaries during the time the balsam was flowing. 

In the " Treacle Bible," 1584, Jeremiah viii., v. 22, 
this passage is rendered : " Is there not treacle at 
Gylead?" Venice treacle, or triacle, was a famous anti- 
dote in the middle ages to all animal poisons. It was 
named Theriaca (the Latin word for our present treacle) 
from the Greek word Therion, a small animal, in 
allusion to the vipers which were added to the triacle 
by Andromachus, physician to the emperor Nero. 



Tea made of our garden balm, by virtue of the volatile 
oil, will prove restorative, and will promote perspiration 
if taken hot on the access of a cold or of influenza ; also, 
if used in like manner, it will help eff'ectively to 
bring on the delayed monthly flow Avith women. 
But an infusion of the plant made with cold water, acts 
better as a remedy for hysterical headache, and as a 
general nervine stimulant because the volatile aromatic 
virtues are not dispelled by heat. Formerly, a spirit of 
balm, combined with lemon peel, nutmeg, and angelic i- 
root, enjoyed a great reputation as a restorative cordial 
under the name of Carmelite water. Paracelsus thought 
so highly of balm that he believed it would completely 
revivify a man, as j^rimum ens melissce. The London 
Dispensatory of 1696 said : "The essence of balm given 
in Canary wine every morning will renew youth, 
strengthen the brain, relieve languishing nature, and 
prevent baldness." "Balm," adds John Evelyn, "is 
sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and 
powerfully chasing away melancholy." In France, 
women bruise the young shoots of balm, and make them 
into cakes, with eggs, sugar, and rose water, which they 
give to mothers in childbed as a strengthener. 

It is fabled that the Jew Ahasucrus (who refused a 
cup of water to our Saviour on His way to Golgotha, 
and was therefore doomed to wander athirst until Christ 
should come again) on a Whitsuntide evening, asked for 
a draught of small beer at the door of a Staff'ordshire 
cottager who was far advanced in consumption. He got 
the drink, and out of gratitude advised the sick man to 
gather in the garden three leaves of Balm, and to put 
them into a cup of beer. This was to be repeated every 
fourth day for twelve days, the refilling of the cup to 
be continued as often as might be Avished ; ,then " the 



disease shall be cured and thy body altered." So saying, 
the Jew departed and was never seen there again. But 
the cottager obeyed the injunction, and at the end of 
the twelve days had become a sound man. 


The Common Barberry (Berheris), which gives its name 
to a special order of plants, grows wild as a shrub in our 
English copses and hedges, particularly about Essex, 
being so called from Berherin, a pearl oyster, because 
tlie leaves are glossy like the inside of an oyster shell. 
It is remarkable for the light colour of its bark, which 
is yellow inside, and for its three-forked spines. Pro- 
vincially it is also termed Pipperidge-bush, from 
" pepin," a pip, and " rouge," red, as descriptive of its 
small scarlet juiceless fruit, of which the active chemical 
principles, as well as of the bark, are " berberin " and 
"oxyacanthin," The sparingly-produced juice of the 
berries is cooling and astringent. It was formerly 
held in high esteem by the Egyptians, when diluted 
as a drink, in pestilential fevers. The inner, yellow 
bark, which has been long believed to exercise a 
medicinal effect on the liver, because of its colour, is 
a true biliary purgative. An infusion of this bark, made 
with boiling water, is useful in jaundice from congestive 
liver, with furred tongue, lowness of spirits, and yellow 
complexion ; also for swollen spleen from malarious 
exposure. A medicinal tincture (H.) is made of the 
root-branches and the root-bark, with spirit of wine ; 
and if given three or four times a day in doses of five 
drops with one tablespoonful of cold water, it will 
admirably rouse the liver to healthy and more vigorous 
action. Conversely the tincture when of reduced strength 
will stay bilious diarrhoea. British farmers dislike the 



BarheiTv shrub because, when it grows in cornfields, the 
wheat near it is blighted, even to the distance of two or 
three hundred yards. This is because of a special 
fungus which is common to the Barberry, and being 
carried by the wind reproduces itself by its spores 
destructively on the ears of wheat, the ^cidium Ber- 
beridis, which generates Puccinia. 

Clusius setteth it down as a wonderful secret which he 
had from a friend, ' ' that if the yellow bark of Barberry 
be steeped in white wine for three hours, and be after- 
wards drank, it will purge one very marvellously." 

The berries upon old Barberry shrubs are often stone- 
less, and this is the best fruit for preserving or for 
making the jelly. They contain malic and citric acids ; 
and it is from these berries that the delicious confitures 
(Vepine vinette, for which Rouen is famous, are commonly 
prepared. And the same berries are chosen in England 
to furnish the kernel for a very nice sugar-plum. The 
syrup of Barberries will make with water an excellent 
astringent gargle for raw, irritable sore throat ; likewise 
the jelly gives famous relief for this catarrhal affection. 
It is prepared by boiling the berries, when ripe, with an 
equal weight of sugar, and then straining. For an 
attack of colic because of gravel in the kidneys, five 
drops of the tincture on sugar every five minutes will 
promptly relieve, as likewise when albumen is found 
by analysis in the urine. 

A noted modern nostrum belauds the virtues of the 
Barberry as specific against bile, heartburn, and the black 
jaundice, this being a remedy which was " discovered 
after infinite pains by one who had studied for thirty 
years by candle light for the good of his countrymen." 
In Gerard's time at the village of Ivor, near Colebrooke, 
most of the hedges consisted solely of Barberry bushes. 


The following is a good old receipt for making 
Barberry jam : — Pick the fruit from the stalks, and bake 
it in an earthen pan ; then press it through a sieve with 
a wooden spoon. Having mixed equal weights of the 
prepared fruit, and of powdered sugar, put these 
together in pots, and cover the mixture up, setting them 
in a dry place, and having sifted some powdered sugar 
over the top of each pot. Among the Italians the 
Barberry bears the name of Holy Thorn, because thought 
to have formed part of the crown of thorns made for our 


HoRDEUM Vulgare — common Barley — is chiefly used in 
Great Britain for brewing and distilling ; but it has 
dietetic and medicinal virtues which entitle it to be con- 
sidered among serviceable simples. Roman gladiators 
who depended for their strength and prowess chiefly on 
Barley, were called Hordearii. Nevertheless, this cereal 
is less nourishing than wheat, and when prepared as 
food is apt to purge ; therefore it is not made into bread, 
except when wheat is scarce and dear, though in 
Scotland poor people eat Barley bread. In India Barley 
meal is made into balls of dough for the oxen and 
camels. Pearl Barley is prepared in Holland and 
Germany by first shelling the grain, and then grinding it 
into round white granules. The ancients fed their horses 
upon Barley, and we fatten swine on this grain made into 
meal. Among the Greeks beer was known as barley 
wine, which was brewed without hops, these dating only 
from the fourteenth century. 

A decoction of barley with gum arable, one ounce of 
the gum dissolved in a pint of the hot decoction, is a 
very useful drink to soothe irritation of the bladder. 



and of the urinary passages. The chemical constituents 
of Barley are starch, gluten, albumen, oil, and hordeic 
acid. From the earliest times it has been employed to 
prepare drinks for the sick, especially in feverish dis- 
orders, and for sore lining membranes of the chest. 
Honey may be added beneficially to the decoction of 
barley for bronchial coughs. The French make 
"Orgeat" of barley boiled in successive waters, and 
sweetened at length as a cooling drink : though this 
name is now applied in France to a liqueur concocted 
from almonds. 


The herb Sweet Basil (Oci/mum Basilicnm) is so called 
because " the smell thereof is fit for a king's house." 
It groAVs commonly in our kitchen gardens, but in 
England it dies down every year, and the seeds have 
to be sown annually. Botanically, it is named 
" basilicon," or royal, probably because used of old in 
some regal unguent, or bath, or medicine. 

This, and the wild Basil, belong to the Labiate order 
of plants. The leaves of the Sweet Basil, when slightly 
bruised, exhale a delightful odour ; they gave the dis- 
tinctive flavour to the original Fetter-Lane sausages. 

The Wild Basil (Calamintha dimpodinin) or Basil 
thyme, or Horse thyme, is a hairy plant growing in bushy 
places, also about hedges and roadsides, and bearing 
whorls of purple flowers with a strong odour of cloves. 
The term Glinopodium signifies "bed's-foot flower," 
because " the branches dooe resemble the foot of a bed." 
In common with the other labiates, Basil, both the wild 
and the sweet, furnishes on aromatic volatile camphor- 
aceous oil. On this account it is much employed in 
France for flavouring soups (especially mock turtle) and 



sauces ; and the dry leaves, in the form of snuff, are 
used for relieving nervous headaches. A tea, made by 
pouring boiling water on the garden basil, when green, 
gently but effectually helps on the retarded monthly 
flow with women. The Bush Basil is Ocijiimm miidiiiu7n, 
of which the leafy tops are used for seasoning, and in 

The Sweet Basil has been immortalised by Keats in 
his tender, pathetic poem of Isabella and the Pot of 
Basil, founded on a story from Boccaccio. She 
reverently possessed herself of the decapitated head 
of her lover, Lorenzo, who had been treacherously 
slain : — 

" She wrapped it up, and for its tomb did choose 
A garden pot, wherein she laid it by, 
And covered it with mould, and o'er it set 
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet." 

The herb was used at funerals in Persia. Its seeds 
were sown by the Romans with maledictions and curses 
through the belief that the more it was abused the 
better it would prosper. When desiring a good crop 
they trod it down with their feet, and prayed the gods 
it might not vegetate. The Greeks likewise supposed 
Basil to thrive best when sown with swearing ; and this 
fact explains the French saying, Semer la Basilic, as 
signifying " to slander." It was told in Elizabeth's 
time that the hand of a fair lady made Basil flourish ; 
and this was then planted in pots as an act of gallantry. 
" Basil," says John Evelyn, " imparts a grateful flavour 
to sallets if not too strong, but is somewhat offensive to 
the eyes." Shenstone, in his School Mistress's Garden, 
tells of " the tufted Basil," and Culpeper quaintly says : 
"Something is the matter; Basil and Rue will never 
grow together : no, nor near one another." It is related 



that a certain advocate of Genoa was once sent as an 
ambassador to treat for conditions with the Dnke of 
Milan ; but the Duke harshly refused to hear the 
message, or to grant the conditions. Then the Am- 
bassador offered him a handful of Basil. Demanding 
what this meant, the Duke was told that the properties 
of the herb were, if gently handled, to give out a 
pleasant odour ; but that, if bruised, and hardly wrung, 
it would breed scorpions. Moved by this witty answer, 
the Duke confirmed the conditions, and sent the 
Ambassador honourably home. 

BEAN {see Pea and Bean). 
BELLADONNA {see Night Shade). 


This, the Herha BenecUda, or Blessed Herb, or Avens 
(Geum Urhanum) is a very common plant of the Rose 
tribe, in our woods, hedges, and shady places. It has 
an erect hairy stem, red at the base, with terminal 
bright yellow drooping flowers. The ordinary name 
Avens — or Avance, Anancia, Enancia — signifies an anti- 
dote, because it was formerly thought to ward off the 
Devil, and evil spirits, and venomous beasts. Where 
the root is in a house Satan can do nothing, and flies 
from it : " therefore " (says Ortus Sanitatis) "it is blessed 
before all other herbs ; and if a man carries the root 
about him no venomous beast can harm him." The 
herb is sometimes called Way Bennet, and Wild Rye. 
Its graceful trefoiled leaf, and the fine golden petals of 
its flowers, symbolising the five wounds of Christ, were 
sculptured by the monks of the thirteenth century on 
their Church architecture. The botanical title of this 



plant, Geiiin, is got from Geiio, " to yield an agreeable 
fragrance," in allusion to the roots. Hence also has been 
derived another appellation of the Avens — Eadix Gary- 
ophyllata, or "clove root," because when freshly dug out 
of the ground the roots smell like cloves. They yield 
tannin freely, with mucilage, resin, and muriate of lime, 
together with a heavy volatile oil. The roots are 
astringent and antiseptic, having been given in infusion 
for ague, and as an excellent cordial sudorific in chills, 
or for fresh catarrh. To make this a pint of boiling 
water should be poured on half an ounce of the dried 
root, or rather more of the fresh root, sliced. Half a 
wineglassful will be the dose, or ten grains of the 
powdered root. An extract is further made. When 
the petals of the flower fall off, a small round prickly 
ball is to be seen. 


Few, if any, herbal plants have been more praised 
for their supposed curative virtues than the Wood 
Betony (Stachijs Betonica), belonging to the order of 
Labiates. By the common people it is often called 
Bitny. The name Betonica is from the Celtic "ben," 
head, and " tonic," good, in allusion to the usefulness of 
the herb against infirmities of the head. It is of 
frequent growth in shady woods and meadows, having 
aromatic leaves, and spikes (stakoi) of light purple 
flowers. Formerly it was held in the very highest 
esteem as a leading herbal simple. The Greeks loudly 
extolled its good qualities. Pliny, in downright rap- 
tures, styled it ante cundas laudatissima I An old Italian 
proverb ran thus : Fende la tunica en compra la Belonia, 
" Sell your coat, and buy Betony ; " whilst modern 
Italians, Avhen speaking of a most excellent man, say. 



" He has as many virtues as Betony " — He pin virth die 

In the Medicina Britannica, 1666, we read : " I have 
known the most obstinate headaches cured by daily 
breakfasting for a month or six weeks on a decoction of 
Betony, made with new milk, and strained." 

Antonius Musa, chief physician to the Emperor 
Augustus, wrote a book entirely on the virtues of this 
herb. Meyrick says, inveterate headaches after resisting 
every other remedy, have been cured by taking daily at 
breakfast a decoction made from the leaves and tops of 
the Wood Betony. Culpeper wrote : " This is a precious 
herb well worth keeping in your house." Gerard tells 
that " Betony maketh a man have a good appetite to 
his meat, and is commended against ache of the knuckle 
bones " (sciatica). 

A pinch of the powdered herb will provoke violent 
sneezing. The dried leaves formed an ingredient in 
Kowley's British Herb Snuff, which was at one time 
quite famous against headaches. 

And yet, notwithstanding all this concensus of praise 
from writers of different epochs, it does not appear 
that the Betony, under chemical analysis and re- 
search, shows itself as containing any special medicinal 
or curative constituents. It only afibrds the fragrant 
aromatic principles common to most of the labiate plants. 

Parkinson, who enlarged the Herbal of Gerard, pro- 
nounced the leaves and flowers of Wood Betony, " by 
their sweet and spicy taste, comfortable both in meate 
and medicine." Anyhow, Betony tea, made with boiling 
water poured on the plant, is a safe drink, and likely to 
prove of benefit against languid nervous headaches; and 
the dried herb may be smoked as tobacco for relieving the 
same ailment. To make Betony tea, put two ounces of 




the herb to a quart of water over the fire, and let this 
gradually simmer to three half-pints. Give a wine- 
glassful of the decoction three times a day. A conserve 
may be made from the flowers for similar purposes. 
The Poet Laureate, A. Austin, mentions " lye of 
Betony to soothe the brow." Both this plant, and the 
JVater Betow/ — so called from its similarity of leaf^ — 
bear the name of Kernel-wort, from having tubers or 
kernels attached to the roots, and from being therefore 
supposed, on the doctrine of signatures, to cure diseased 
kernels or scrofulous glands in the neck ; also to banish 
piles from the fundament. 

But the Water Betony (Figwort) belongs not to the 
labiates, but to the Scrophulariacece, or scrofula-curing 
order of plants. It is called in some counties " brown- 
wwt," and in Yorkshire " bishopsleaves," or, Vherbe du 
siSge, which term has a double meaning — in allusion 
both to the seat in the temple of Cloacina (w.c.) and to 
the ailments of the lower body in connection therewith, 
as well as to the more exalted " See " of a Right 
Reverend Prelate. In old times the Water tigwort was 
famous as a vulnerary, both when used externally, and 
when taken in decoction. The name " brown-wort " 
has been got either from the brown colour of the stems 
and flowers^ or, more probably, from its growing abun- 
dantly about the "brunnen," or public German fountains. 
Wasps and bees are fond of the flowers. In former 
days this herb was relied on for the cure of toothache, 
and for expelling the particular disembodied spirit, or 
"mare," which visited our Saxon ancestors during their 
sleep after supper, being familiarly known to them as 
the " nightmare." The " Echo " was in like manner 
thought by the Saxons to be due to a spectre, or mare, 
which they called the *' wood mare." The Water 



Betony is said to make one of the ingredients in Count 
Mattoei's noted remedy, " anti-scrofuloso." The Figwort 
is named in Somersetshire " crowdy-kit" (the word kit 
meaning a fiddle), " or fiddlewood," because if two 
of the stalks are rubbed together, they make a noise 
like the scraping of the bow on violin strings. In 
Devonshire^ also, the plant is known as "fiddler." 

An allied Figwort — which is botanically called nodosa^ 
or knotted — is considered, when an ointment is made 
with it, using the whole plant bruised and treated with 
unsalted lard, a sovereign remedy against "burnt 
holes " or gangrenous chicken-pox, such as often attacks 
the Irish peasantry, who subsist on a meagre and 
exclusively vegetable diet, being half starved, and pent 
up in wretched foul hovels. This herb is said to be 
certainly curative of hydrophobia, by taking every 
morning whilst fasting a slice of bread and butter on 
which the powdered knots of the roots have been 
spread, following it up with two tumblers of fresh 
spring water. Then let the patient be well clad in 
woollen garments and made to take a long fast walk 
until in a profuse perspiration. The treatment should 
be continued for nine days. Again, the botanical name 
of a fig, ficus, has been commonly applied to a sore 
or scab appearing on a part of the body where hair is, 
or to a red sore in the fundament, i.e., to a pile. And 
the Figwort is so named in allusion to its curative 
virtues against piles, when the plant is made into an 
ointment for outward use, and when the tincture is 
taken internally. It is specially visited by wasps. 

BILBERRY (Whortleberry, or Whinberry). 

This fruit, which belongs to the Cranberry order of 
plants, grows abundantly throughout England in heathy 



and mountainous districts. The small-braiiclied shrub 
bears globular, wax-like flowers, and black berries, 
which are covered, when quite fresh, with a grey bloom. 
In the West of England they are popularly called 
" whorts," and they ripen about the time of St. James' 
Feast, July 25th. Other names for the fruit are 
Blueberry, Bulberry, Hurtleberry, and Huckleberry. 
The title Whinberry has been acquired from its growing 
on Whins, or Heaths ; and Bilberry signifies dark 
coloured ; whence likewise comes Blackwort as dis- 
tinguished in its aspect from the Cowberry and the 
Cranberry. By a corruption the original word Myrtle- 
berry has suffered change of its initial M into W. 
(Whortleberry.) In the middle ages the Myrtleberry 
was used in medicine and cookery, to Avhich berry 
the Whortleberry bears a strong resemblance. It is 
agreeable to the taste, and may be made into tarts, 
but proves mawkish unless mixed with some more acid 

The Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) is an admirable 
astringent, and should be included as such among the 
domestic medicines of the housewife. If some good 
brandy be poured over two handfuls of the fruit in a 
bottle, this will make an extract which continually im- 
proves by being kept. Obstinate diarrhoea may be 
cured by giving doses of a tablespoonful of this extract 
taken with a wineglassful of warm water, and repeated 
at intervals of two hours whilst needed, even for the 
more severe cases of dysenteric diarrhoea. The berries 
contain chemically much tannin. Their stain on the 
lips may be quickly effaced by sucking at a lemon. In 
Devonshire they are eaten at table with cream. The 
Irish call them " frawns." If the first tender leaves 
are properly gathered and dried, they can scarcely be 



distinguished from good tea. Moor game live on these 
berries in the autumn. Their juice will stain paper or 
linen purple : — 

" Sanguiiieo splendore rosas vaccinia nigro, 
Induit, et dulci violas ferrugine pingit." 


They are also called in some counties, Blaeberries, 
Trucldeberries, and Blackhearts. 

The extract of Bilberry is found to be a very useful 
application for curing such skin diseases as scaly 
eczema, and other eczema which is not moist or pustu- 
lous ; also for burns and scalds. Some of the extract 
is to be laid thickly on the cleansed skin with a 
camel hair brush, and a thin layer of cotton wool to be 
spread over it, the whole being fastened with a calico 
or gauze bandage. This should be changed gently 
once a day. 

Another Vaccinium (oxycoccos), the Marsh Whortle- 
berry, or Cranberry, or Fenberry — from growing in 
fens — is found in peat bogs, chiefly in the North. This 
is a low plant with straggling wiry stems, and solitary 
terminal bright red flowers, of which the segments are 
bent back in a singular manner. Its fruit likewise 
makes excellent tarts, and forms a considerable article of 
commerce at Langtown, on the borders of Cumberland. 
The fruit stalks are crooked at the top, and before 
the blossom expands they resemble the head and neck 
of a crane. 


This is the well-known fruit of the Common Bramble 
{Biibus fructicosus), which grows in every English hedge- 
row, and which belongs to the Rose order of plants. It 
has long been esteemed for its bark and leaves as a 



capital astringent, these containing much tannin ; also 
for its fruit, which is supplied with malic and citric 
acids, pectin, and albumen. Blackberries go often by 
the name of " bumblekites," from " bumble," the cry of 
the bittern, and ky te, a Scotch word for belly ; the name 
bumblekite being applied, says Dr. Prior, " from the 
rumbling and bumbling caused in the bellies of children 
who eat the fruit too greedily." Rubus " is from the 
Latin ruher, red. 

The blackberry has likewise acquired the name of 
scaldberry, from producing, as some say, the eruption 
known as scaldhead in children who eat the fruit to 
excess ; or, as others suppose, from the curative effects 
of the leaves and berries in this malady of the scalp ; or, 
again, from the remedial effects of the leaves when 
applied externally to scalds. 

It has been said that the young shoots, eaten as a salad, 
will fasten loose teeth. If the leaves are gathered in 
the Spring and dried, then, when required, a handful of 
them may be infused in a pint of boiling water, and the 
infusion, when cool, may be taken, a teacupful at a time, 
to stay diarrhoea, and for some bleedings. Similarly, if 
an ounce of the bruised root is boiled in three half-pints 
of water, down to a pint, a teacupful of this may be 
given every three or four hours. The decoction is also 
useful against whooping-cough in its spasmodic stage. 
The bark contains tannin ; and if an ounce of the same 
be boiled in a pint and a half of water, or of milk, down to 
a pint, half a teacupful of the decoction may be given 
every hour or two for staying relaxed bowels. Likewise 
the fruit, if desiccated in a moderately hot oven, and 
afterwards reduced to powder (which should be kept in 
a well corked bottle) will prove an efficacious remedy 
for dysenter3^ 



Gerard says : " Bramble leaves heal the eyes that 
hang out, and stay the hsemorrhoides [piles] if they can 
be laid thereunto." The Londrm Pharmacopmia (1696) 
declared the ripe berries of the bramble to be a great 
cordial, and to contain a notable restorative spirit. In 
Cruso's Treasury of Easy Medicines (1771), it is directed 
for old inveterate ulcers : " Take a decoction of black- 
berry leaves made in wine, and foment the ulcers with 
this whilst hot each night and morning, which will heal 
them, however difficult to be cured." The name of the 
bush is derived from brambel, or brymbyll, signifying 
prickly ; its blossom as well as the fruit, ripe and 
unripe, in all stages, may be seen on the bush at the 
same time. With the ancient Greeks Blackberries were 
a popular remedy for gout. 

As soon as blackberries are over-ripe, they become 
quite indigestible. Country folk say in Somersetshire 
and Sussex : "The devil goes round on Old Michaelmas 
Day, October 11th, to spite the Saint, and spits on the 
blackberries, so that they who eat them after that date 
fall sick, or have trouble before the year is out." 
Blackberry wine and blackberry jam are taken for sore 
throats in many rustic homes. Blackberry jelly is use- 
ful for dropsy from feeble ineffective circulation. To 
make "blackberry cordial," the juice should be ex- 
pressed from the fresh ripe fruit, adding half a pound of 
white sugar to each quart thereof, together with half an 
ounce of both nutmeg and cloves ; then boil these 
together for a short time, and add a little brandy to the 
mixture v/hen cold. 

In Devonshire the peasantry still think that if any one 
is troubled with " blackheads," i.e., small pimples, or 
boils, he may be cured by creeping from East to West on 
the hands and knees nine times beneath an arched 



bramble bush. This is evidently a relic of an old Dryad 
superstition when the angry deities who inhabited 
particular trees had to be appeased before the special 
diseases which they inflicted could be cured. It is 
worthy of remark that the Bramble forms the subject of 
the oldest known apologue. When Jonathan upbraided 
the men of Shechem for their base ingratitude to his 
father's house, he related to them the parable of the 
trees choosing a king, by whom the Braml)le was finally 
elected, after the olive, the fig tree, and the vine had 
excused themselves from accepting this dignity. 

In the Roxburghe Ballad of " The Children in the 
Wood," occurs the verse — 

" Their pretty lips with Blackberries 
Were all besmeared and dyed ; 
And when they saw the darksome night 
They sat them down, and cryed." 

The French name for blackberries is mures sauvages, 
also mures cle haie ; and in some of our provincial 
districts they are known as " winterpicks," growing on 
the Blag. 

Blackberry wine, which is a trustworthy cordial 
astringent remedy for looseness of the bowels, may be 
made thus : Measure your berries, and bruise them, 
and to every gallon of the fruit add a quart of boiling 
Avater. Let the mixture stand for twenty-four hours, 
occasionally stirring ; then strain off the liquid, adding 
to every gallon a couple of pounds of refined sugar, and 
keep it in a cask tightly corked till the following 
October, when it will be ripe and rich. 

A noted hair-dye is said to be made by boiling the 
leaves of the bramble in strong lye, which then imparts 
permanently to the hair a soft, black colour. Tom 
Hood, in his humorous way, described a negro funeral 



as going a black burying." An American poet 
graphically tells us : — 

"Earth's full of Heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God ! 
But only they who see take off their shoes ; 
The rest sit round it, and — pluck blackberries." 

BLUEBELL (Wild Hyacinth). 

This, — the Agraphis mutans, — of the Lily tribe — is so 
abundant in English woods and pastures, whilst so 
widely known, and popular with young and old, as 
to need no description. Hyacinth petals are marked in 
general with dark spots, resembling in their arrangement 
the Greek word AI, alas ! because a youth, beloved by 
Apollo, and killed by an ill-wind, was changed into this 
flower. But the wild Hyacinth bears no such character 
on its petals, and is therefore called " non-scriptus." 
The graceful curl of the petals, not their dark violet 
colour, has suggested to the poets " hyacinthine 

In Walton's Angler the Bluebell is mentioned as 
Culverkeys, the same as " Calverkeys " in Wiltshire. 
No particular medicinal uses have attached themselves 
to the wild Hyacinth flower as a herbal simple. 
The root is round, and was formerly prized for 
its abundant clammy juice given out when bruised, and 
employed as starch. Miss Pratt refers to this as 
poisonous ; and our Poet Laureate teaches : — 

" In the month when earth and sky are one, 
To squeeze the blue bell 'gainst the adder's bite." 

When dried and powdered, the root as a styptic is 
of special virtue to cure the whites of women : in doses 
of not more than three grains at a time. " There is 



hardly," says Sir John Hill, a more powerful remedy." 
Tennyson has termed the woodland abundance of 
Hyacinths in full spring time as " The heavens up- 
breaking through the earth." On the day of St. George, 
the Patron Saint of England, these Avild hyacinths tinge 
the meadows and pastures with their deep blue colour — 
an emblem of the ocean empire, over which England 
assumes the rule. 

But the chief charms of the Bluebell are its beauty 
and early appearance. Now is " the winter past ; the 
rain is over and gone ; the flowers appear on the earth ; 
the time for the singing of birds is come ; and the voice 
of the turtle is heard in the land." 

" This earth is one great temple, made 
For worship everywhere; 
The bells are flowers in sun and shade 
Which ring the heart to prayer. ' ' 

" The city bell takes seven days 
To reach the townsman's ear ; 
But he who kneels in Nature's ways, 
Has Sabbath all the year." 

The Hairbell {Campanula rotundifolia) is the Bluebell 
of Scotland ; and nothing rouses a Scot to anger more 
surely than to exhibit the wild Hyacinth as the true 

BOG BEAN (or Marsh-trefoil). 

The Buck-bean, or Bog-bean, which is common enough 
in stagnant pools, and on our spongy bogs, is the most 
serviceable of all known herbal tonics. It may be easily 
recognised growing in water by its large leaves over- 
topping the surface, each being composed of three 
leaflets, and resembling the leaf of a Windsor Broad 
Bean. The flowers when in bud are of a bright rose 



colour, and when fully blown they have the inner 
surface of their petals thickly covered with a white 
fringe, on which account the plant is known also as 
white fluff." The name Buckbean is perhaps a cor- 
ruption of scorbutus, scurvy ; this giving it another title, 
"scurvy bean." And it is termed "goat's bean," per- 
haps from the French le houc, "a he-goat." The plant 
flowers for a month and therefore bears the botanical 
designation, " Menyanthes " (trifoliata) from meen, "a 
month," and anihos, " a flower." It belongs to the 
Gentian tribe, each of which is distinguished by a tonic 
and appetising bitterness of taste. The root of the Bog 
Bean is the most bitter part, and is therefore selected 
for medicinal use. It contains a chemical glucoside, 
" Menyantbin," which consists of glucose and a volatile 
product, " Menyanthol." For curative purj^oses drug- 
gists supply an infusion of the herb, and a liquid extract 
in combination with liquorice. These preparations are 
in moderate doses, strengthening and antiscorbutic ; 
but when given more largely they are purgative and 
emetic. Gerard says if the plant " be taken with mead, 
or honied water, it is of use against a cough " ; in which 
respect it is closely allied to the Sundew (another plant 
of the bogs) for relieving whooping-cough after the first 
feverish stage, or any similp.r hacking, spasmodic cough. 
A tincture is made (H.) from the whole plant with 
spirit of wine, and this proves most useful for clearing 
obscuration of the sight, when there is a sense, es- 
pecially in the open-air, of a white vibrating mist before 
the eyes ; and therefore it has been given with marked 
success in early stages of amaurotic paralysis of the 
retina. The dose should be three or four drops of the 
tincture with a tablespoonful of cold water three times 
in the day for a week at a time. 



The Borage, with its gallant blue flower, is cultivated in 
our gardens as a pot herb, and is associated in our minds 
with bees and claret cup. It grows wild in abundance 
on open plains where the soil is favourable, and it has a 
long-established reputation for cheering the spirits, 
Botanically, it is the Borago officinalis^ this title being a 
corruption of cor-ago, i.e., cor, the heart, ago, I stimulate 
— quia cordis affectilms mecletur, because it cures weak con- 
ditions of the heart. An old Latin adage says : Borago 
ego gauclia semper ago — " I, Borage, bring always courage" ; 
or the name may be derived from the Celtic, Borrach, 
" a noble person." This plant was the Bugloss of the 
older botanists, and it corresponds to our Common 
Bugloss, so called from the shape and bristly surface of 
its leaves, which resemble bous-glossa, the tongue of an 
ox. Chemically, the plant Borage contains potassium 
and calcium combined with mineral acids. The fresh 
juice affords thirty per cent., and the dried herb three 
per cent, of nitrate of potash. The stems and leaves 
supply much saline mucilage, which, when boiled and 
cooled, likewise deposits nitre and common salt. These 
crystals, when ignited, will burn with a succession of 
small sparkling explosions, to the great delight of the 
schoolboy. And it is to such saline qualities the whole- 
some, invigorating effects and the specially refreshing 
properties of the Borage are supposed to be mainly due. 
For which reason, the plant, " when taken in sallets," as 
says an old herbalist, " doth exhilarate, and make the 
mind glad," almost in the same way as a bracing sojourn 
by the seaside during an autumn holiday. The flowers 
possess cordial virtues which are very revivifying, 
and have been much commended against melancholic 
depression of the nervous system. Burton, in his 



Anatomy of MelancJioly (1676), wrote with reference to 
the frontispiece of that book : — 

*' Borage and Hellebore fill two scenes, 
Sovereign plants to purge the veins 
Of melancholy, and cheer the heart 
Of those black fumes which make it smart ; 
The best medicine that God e'er made 
For this malady, if well assaid. " 

"The sprigs of Borage," wrote John Evelyn, "are 
of known virtue to revive the hypochondriac and cheer 
the hard student." 

According to Dioscorides and Pliny, the Borage was 
that famous nepenthe of Homer which Polydamas sent 
to Helen for a token " of such rare virtue that when 
taken steep'd in wine, if wife and children, father and 
mother, brother and sister, and all thy dearest friends 
should die before thy face, thou could'st not grieve, 
or shed a tear for them." " The bowl of Helen had no 
other ingredient, as most criticks do conjecture, than 
this of- borage." And it was declared of the herb by 
another ancient author : Vinum potatum ijuo sit macerata 
huglossa mmrorum cerebri dicunt auferre ]oeriti : — 

" To enliven the sad with the joy of a joke, 
Give them wine with some borage put in it to soak." 

The Romans named the Borage Euphrosynon, because 
when put into a cup of wine it made the drinkers of the 
same merry and glad. 

Parkinson says, "The seed of Borage helpeth nurses 
to have more store of milk, for which purpose its leaves 
are most conducing." Its saline constituents promote 
activity of the kidneys, and for this reason the plant is 
used in France to carry off catarrhs which are feverish. 
The fresh herb has a cucumber-like odour, and when 
compounded with lemon and sugar, added to wine and 


water, it makes a delicious " cool tankard," as a summer 
drink. " A syrup concocted of the floures," said Gerard, 
" quieteth the lunatick person, and the leaves eaten 
raw do engender good blood." Of all nectar-loving 
insects, bees alone know how to pronounce the " open 
sesame " of admission to the honey pots of the Borage. 


The Broom, or Link {Cytisus scoparius) is a leguminous 
shrub which is well known as growing abundantly on 
open places in our rural districts. The prefix " cytisus " 
is derived from the name of a Greek island where Broom 
abounded. It formerly bore the name of Planta Genista, 
and gave rise to the historic title, " Plantagenet." A 
sprig of its golden blossom was borne by Geoffrey of 
Anjou in his bonnet when going into battle, making him 
conspicuous throughout the strife. In the Ingoldshj 
Legends it is said of our second King Henry's head- 
dress : — 

" With a great sprig of broom, which he bore as a badge in it, 
He was named from this circumstance, Henry Plantagenet." 

The stalks of the Broom, and especially the topmost 
young twigs, are purgative, and act powerfully on the 
kidneys to increase the flow of urine. They contain 
chemically an acid principle, " scoparin," and an alkaloid, 
"sparteine." For medical purposes these terminal 
twigs are used (whether fresh or dried) to make a decoc- 
tion which is of great use in dropsy from a weak heart, 
but it should not be given where congestion of the lungs 
is present. From half to one ounce by weight of the 
tops should be boiled down in a pint of water to half 
this quantity, and a wineglassful may be taken as a dose 
every four or six hours. For more chronic dropsy, a 
compound decoction of broom may be given with much 



benefit. To make this, use broom-tops and dandelion 
roots, of each half an ounce, boiling them in a pint of 
water down to half a pint, and towards the last adding 
half an ounce of bruised juniper berries. When cold, 
the decoction should be strained and a wineglassful may 
be had three or four times a day. " Henry the Eighth, 
a prince of famous memory, was wonte to drinke the 
distilled water of broome flowers against surfeits and 
diseases therefrom arising." The flower-buds, pickled 
in vinegar, are sometimes used as capers ; and the 
roasted seeds have been substituted for coff'ee. Sheep 
become stupefied or excited when by chance constrained 
to eat broom-tops. 

The generic name, Sccrparms, is derived from the 
Latin word scopa, a besom, this signifying " a shrub to 
sweep with." It has been long represented that witches 
delight to ride thereon : and in Holland, if a vessel 
lying in dock has a besom tied to the top of its mast, 
this advertises it as in search of a new owner. Hence 
has arisen the saying about a woman when seeking a 
second husband, Zij steetk '/ dem hezen, " She hangs out 
the broom." 

There is a tradition in Suff'olk and Sussex : — 
"If you sweep the house with Broom in May, 
You'll sweep the head of the house away." 

Allied to the Broom, and likewise belonging to the 
Papilionaceous order of leguminous plants, though not 
aff'ording any known medicinal principle, the Yellow 
Gorse (Ulex) or Furze grows commonly throughout 
England on dry exposed plains. It covers these during 
the flowering season with a gorgeous sheet of yellow 
blossoms, orange perfumed, and which entirely conceals 
the rugged brown unsightly branches beneath. Its 
elastic seed vessels burst with a crackling noise in hot 



weather, and scatter the seeds on all sides. " Some," 
says Parkinson, "have used the flowers against the 
jaundice," but probably only because of their yellow 
colour. "The seeds," adds Gerard, "are employed 
in medicines against the stone, and the staying of the 
laske (laxitas, looseness). They are certainly astringent, 
and contain tannin. In Devonshire the bush is called 
" Vuzz," and in Sussex " Hawth." 

The Gorse is rare in Scotland, thriving best in our 
Gool humid climate. In England it is really never out 
of blossom, not even after a severe frost, giving rise to 
the well-known saying "Love is never out of season 
except when the Furze is out of bloom." It is also 
known as Fursbush, Furrs and Whins, being crushed and 
given as fodder to cattle. The tender shoots are 
protected from being eaten by herbivorous animals in 
the same way as are the thistles and the holly, by the 
angles of the leaves having grown together so as to 
constitute prickles. 

" ' Tvvere to cut oft an epigram's point, 
Or disfurnish a knight of his spurs, 
If we foolishly tried to disjoint 

Its arms from the lance-bearing Furze." 

Linnoeus " knelt before it on the sod : and for its 
beauty thanked his God." 

The Butcher's Broom, Biiscus (or Bruscus) aculeatus, or 
prickl}^ is a plant of the Lily order, which grows chiefly 
in the South of England, on heathy places and in woods. 
It bears sharp-pointed, stiff leaves (each of which 
produces a small solitary flower on its upper surface), 
and scarlet berries. The shrub is also known as Knee 
Hulyer, Knee Holly (confused with the Latin cneorujii), 
Prickly Pettigrue and Jews' Myrtle. Butchers make 
besoms of its twigs, with which to sweep their stalls or 



blocks: and these twigs are called "pungi topi," 
"prickrats," from being used to preserve meat from 
rats. Jews buy the same for service during the Feast of 
Tabernacles ; and the boughs have been employed for flog- 
ging chilblains. The Butcher's Broom has been claimed 
by the Earls of Sutherland as the distinguishing badge 
of their followers and Clan, every Sutherland volunteer 
wearing a sprig of the bush in his bonnet on field days. 
This shrub is highly extolled as a free promoter of urine 
in dropsy and obstructions of the kidneys ; a pint of 
boiling water should be poured on an ounce of the fresh 
twigs, or on half-an-ounce of the bruised root, to make 
an infusion, which may be taken as tea. The root is at 
first sweet to the taste, and afterwards bitter. 


Our English hedgerows exhibit Bryony of two distinct 
sorts — the white and the black — which difi*er much, the 
one from the other, as to medicinal properties, and 
which belong to separate orders of plants. The White 
Bryony is botanically a cucumber, being of common 
growth at our roadsides, and often called the White Vine : 
it also bears the name of Tetterberry, from curing a 
disease of the skin known as tetters. It climbs about 
w^ith long straggling stalks, which attach themselves by 
spiral tendrils, and which produce rough, palmated 
leaves. Insignificant pale-green flowers spring in small 
clusters from the bottom of these leaves. The round 
berries are at first green, and afterwards brilliantly red. 
Chemically, the plant contains "bryonin," a medicinal 
substance which is intensely bitter ; also malate and 
phosphate of lime, with gum, starch, and sugar. 

A tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root 
collected before the plant flowers, which is found to 




be of superlative use for the relief of chronic rheuma- 
tism (especially when aggravated by moving), and for 
subduing active congestions of the serous membranes 
which line the heart-bag, the ribs, the outer coat of the 
brain, and which cover the bowels. In the treatment 
of pleurisy, this tincture is invaluable. Four drops 
should be given in a tablespoonful of cold water every 
three or four hours. Also for any contused bruising of 
the skin, and especially for a black eye, to promptly 
bathe the injured part with a decoction of White Bryony 
root will speedily subdue the swelling, and will prevent 
discoloration far better than a piece of raw beef 
applied outside as the remedy most approved in the 

In France, the White Bryony is deemed so potent and 
perilous, that its root is named the devil's turnip — 
navet du cliable. 

Our English plant, the Bryonia dioica, purges as 
actively as colocynth, if too freely administered. 

The name Bryony is two thousand years old, and 
comes from a Greek word hruein, " to shoot forth 

From the incised root of the White Bryony exudes a 
milky juice which is aperient of action, and which has 
been commended for epilepsy, as well as for obstructed 
liver and dropsy ; also its tincture for chronic con- 

The popular herbal drink know^n as Hop Bitters is 
said to owe many of its supposed virtues to the bryony 
root, substituted for the mandrake which it is alleged to 
contain. The true mandrake is a gruesome herb, which 
was held in superstitions awe by the Greeks and the 
Eomans. Its root was forked, and bears some resemblance 
to the legs of a man; for which reason the moneymakers 



of the past increased the likeness, and attributed 
supernatural powers to the plant. It was said to grow 
only beneath a murderer's gibbet, and when torn from 
the earth by its root to utter a shriek which none might 
hear and live. From earliest times, in the East, a notion 
prevailed that the mandrake would remove sterility. 
With which purpose in view, Rachel said to Leah : 
" Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes ' 
(Genesis xxx. v. 14). In later times the Bryony has 
come into use instead of the true mandrake, and it 
has continued to form a profitable spurious article 
with mountebank doctors. In Henry the Eighth's 
day, ridiculous little images made from Bryony roots, 
cut into the figure of a man, and with grains of millet 
inserted into the face as eyes, the same being known as 
pappettes or mammettes, were accredited with magical 
powers, and fetched high prices with simple folk. 
Italian ladies have been known to pay as much as thirty 
golden ducats for one of these artificial mandrakes. 
Readers of Thalaba (Southey) will remember the fine 
scene in which Khawla procures this plant to form part 
of the waxen figure of the Destroyer. Unscrupulous 
vendors of the fraudulent articles used to seek out a 
thriving young Bryony plant, and to open the earth 
round it. Then being prepared with a mould such as is 
used for making Plaster of Paris figures, they fixed 
it close to the root, and fastened it with wire to keep it 
in place. Afterwards, by filling the earth up to the 
root they left it to assume the required shape, which 
was generally accomplished in a single summer. 

The medicinal tincture (H.) of AVhite Bryony 
{Brijonia alba) is of special service to persons of dark 
hair and complexion, with firm fibre of flesh, and of a 
bilious cross-grained temperament. Also it is of par- 



ticular use for relieving coughs, and colds of a feverish 
bronchial sort, caught by exposure to the east wind. 
On the contrary, the catarrhal troubles of sensitive 
females, and of young children, are better met by 
Ipecacuanha : — • 

" Coughing in a shady grove 

Sat my Juliana, 
Lozenges I gave my love, 

Ipecacuanha — 
Full twenty from the lozenge box 

The greedy nymph did pick ; 
Then, sighing sadly, said to me — 
My Damon, I am sick." 

George Canning. 


In nemore umbroso Phyllis mea forte sedebat, 

Cui mollem exhausit tussis anhela sinum: 

Nec mora : de loculo dej)rompsi pyxida loevo, 

Ipecacuaneos, exhibuique trochos : 

Ilia quidem imprudens medicatos leniter orbes 

Absorpsit numero bisque quaterque decem : 

Turn tenero ducens suspiria pectore dixit, 

" Thyrsi ! Mihi stomachum nausea tristis habet." 

The Black Bryony (Lady's-seal, or Oxberry), which 
likewise grows freely in our hedges, is quite a different 
plant from its nominal congener. It bears the name of 
Tamus Vulgaris, and belongs to the natural order of 
Yams. It is also called the Wild Hop, and Tetterberry 
or Tetter wort (in common with the greater Celandine), 
because curing the skin disease known as tetters ; and 
further, Blackbindweed. It has smooth heart-shaped 
leaves, and produces scarlet, elliptical berries larger than 
those of the White Bryony. A tincture is made (H.) 
from the root-stock, with spirit of wine, which proves a 
most useful application to un])roken chilblains, when 



made into a lotion with water, one part to twenty. The 
plant is called Black Bryony {Bryonia nigra) from its 
dark leaves and black root. It is not given at all 
internally, but the acrid pulp of the root has been 
used as a stimulating plaster. 


The common Buckthorn grows in our woods and 
thickets, and used to be popularly known because of the 
purgative syrup made from its juice and berries. It 
bears dense branches of small green flowers, followed by 
the black berries, which purge violently. If gathered 
before they are ripe they furnish a yellow dye. When 
ripe, if mixed with gum arabic and lime water, they 
form the pigment called " Bladder Green." Until late in 
the present century — 0 dura ilia messomm I — English 
rustics, when requiring an aperient dose for themselves 
or their children, had recourse to the syrup of Buckthorn. 
But its action was so severe, and attended with such 
painful gripings, that as time went on the medicine was 
discarded, and it is now employed in this respect almost 
exclusively by the cattle doctor. Dodoeus taught about 
Buckthorn berries : " They be not meet to be admin- 
istered but to young and lusty people of the country, 
which do set more store of their money than their lives." 
The shrub grows chiefly on chalk, and near brooks. 
The name Buckthorn is from the German buxdorn, 
boxthorn, hartshorn. In Anglo-Saxon it was Heorot- 
bremble. It is also known as Way thorn, Rainberry 
Thorn, Highway Thorn and Rhineberries. Each of the 
berries contains four seeds : and the flesh of birds which 
eat thereof is said to be purgative. When the juice is 
given medicinally it causes a bad stomach-ache, with 
much dryness of the throat: for which reason Sydenham 



always ordered a basin of soup to be given after it. 
Chemically the active principle of the Buckthorn is 
"rhamno-cathartine." Likewise a milder kind of 
Buckthorn, Avhich is much more useful as a Simple, 
grows freely in England, the Ithamnv.^ frangnJa or 
so-called " black berry-beai'ing Alder," though this 
appellation is a mistake, because botanically the Alder 
never bears any berries. This black Buckthorn is a 
slender shrub, which occurs in our woods and thickets. 
The juice of its berries is aperient, without benig 
irritating, and is well suited as a laxative for j^ersons of 
delicate constitution. It possesses the merit of continuing 
to answer in smaller doses after the patient has become 
habituated to its use. The berry of the FJiamnus 
fmngiila may be known by its containing only two 
seeds. Country people give the bark boiled in ale for 
jaundice ; and this bark is the black dogwood of gun- 
powder makers. Lately a certain aperient medicine 
has become highly popular with both doctors and 
patients in this country, the same being known as 
Cascara Sagrada. It is really an American Buckthorn, 
the Bhamnus Persiana, and it possesses no true advantage 
over our black Alder Buckthorn, though the bark 
of this latter must be used a year old, or it will cause 
griping A fluid extract of the English mild Buckthorn, 
or of the American Cascara, is made by our leading 
druggists, of which from half to one teaspoonful 
may be given for a dose. This is likewise a tonic 
to the intestines, and is especially useful for reliev- 
ing piles. Lozenges also of the Alder Buckthorn are 
dispensed under the name of "Aperient Fruit Lozenges;" 
one, or perhaps two, being taken for a dose as required. 

There is a Sea Buckthorn, Hij^j^ophce, which belongs to 
a different natural order, Elmagnacece, a low shrubby tree. 



growing on sandhills and cliffs, and called also Sallow- 
thorn. The fruit is made (in Tartary) into a pleasant 
jelly, because of its acid flavour, and used in the Gulf of 
Bothnia for concocting a fish sauce. 

The name signifies "giving light to a horse," being 
conferred Ijecause of a supposed power to cure equine 
blindness : or it may mean " shining underneath," 
in allusion to the silvery underside of the leaf. 

The old-fashioned Cathartic Buckthorn of our hedges 
and woods has spinous thorny ])ranchlets, from which 
its name, lUiamnus, is thought to be derived, because 
the shrub is set with thorns like as the ram. At one 
time this Buckthorn was a botanical puzzle, even to 
Royalty, as the following lines assure us : — 

" Hicum, peridicum ; all clothed in green; 
The King could not tell it, no more could the Queen ; 
So they sent to consult wise men from the East, 
Who said it had horns, though it was not a beast." 

BURNET SAXIFRAGE (see Pimpernel). 


The most common Buttercup of our fields {Ranunculus 
hulhosns) needs no detailed description. It belongs 
to the order termed lianuncvlacece, so-called from the 
Latin mna, a frog, because the several varieties of 
this genus grow in moist places where frogs abound. 
Under the general name of Buttercups are included the 
creeping Ranunculus, of moist meadows ; the llanun- 
mlus acris, Hunger Weed, or Meadow Crowfoot, so 
named from the shape of the leaf (each of these two 
being also called King Cup), and the Puinuuculus 
hulbosus mentioned above. " King-Cob " signifies a 
resemblance between the unexpanded flowerbud and 



a stud of gold, such as a king would wear ; so likewise 
the folded calyx is named Goldcup, Goldknob and 
Cuckoobud. The term Buttercup has become conferred 
through a mistaken notion that this flower gives butter 
a yellow colour through the cows feeding on it (which is 
not the case), or, perhaps, from the polished, oily surface 
of the petals. The designation really signifies " button 
cop," or hovton cVoi\ "the batchelor's button"; this 
terminal syllable, cup^ being corrupted from the old 
English word " cop," a head. It really means " button 
head. ' The Buttercup generally is known in Wiltshire 
and the adjoining counties as Crazy, or Crazies, being 
reckoned by some as an insane plant calculated to produce 
madness ; or as a corruption of Christseye (which was 
the medieval name of the Marigold). 

A burning acridity of taste is the common characteris- 
tic of the several varieties of the Buttercup. In its 
fresh state the ordinarj-^ field Buttercup is so acrimonious 
that by merely pulling up the plant by its root, and 
carrying it some little distance in the hand, the palm 
becomes reddened and inflamed. Cows will not eat it 
unless very hungry, and then the mouth of the animal 
becomes sore and blistered. The leaves of the Buttercup, 
when bruised and applied to the skin, produce a blistering 
of the outer cuticle, with a discharge of a watery 
fluid, and with heat, redness, and swelling. If these 
leaves are masticated in the mouth they will induce 
pains like a stitch between the ribs at the side, with the 
sharp catchings of neuralgic rheumatism. A medicinal 
tincture is made (H.) from the bulbous Buttercup with 
spirit of w^ine, which will, as a similar, cure shingles very 
expeditiously, both the outbreak of small watery pimples 
clustered together at the side, and the accompanying 
sharp pains between the ribs. Also this tincture will 



promptly relieve neuralgic side-ache, and pleurisy which 
is of a passive sort. From six to eight drops of the 
tincture may be taken with a tablespoonful of cold water 
by an adult three or four times a day for either of the 
aforesaid purposes. In France, this plant is called 
" jaunet." Buttercups are most probably the " Cuckoo 
Buds " immortalised by Shakespeare. The fresh leaves 
of the Crowfoot (Bmiunciiliis acris) formed a part of the 
famous cancer cure of Mr. Plunkett in 1794. This cure 
comprised Crowfoot leaves, freshly gathered, and dog's- 
foot fennel leaves, of each an ounce, with one drachm of 
white arsenic levigated, and with five scruples of flowers 
of sulphur, all beaten together into a paste, and dried by 
the sun in balls, which were then powdered, and, being 
mixed with yolk of egg, were applied on pieces of pig's 
bladder. The juice of the common Buttercup (Bulbosus), 
known sometimes as " St. Anthony's Turnip," if applied 
to the nostrils, will provoke sneezing, and will relieve 
passive headache in this way. The leaves have been 
applied as a blister to the wrists in rheumatism, and 
when infused in boiling water as a poultice over the pit 
of the stomach as a counter-irritant. For sciatica the 
tincture of the bulbous buttercup has proved very helpful. 

The Ranunculus flammata, Spearwort, has been used to 
produce a slight blistering effect by being put under a 
limpet shell against the skin of the part to be relieved, 
until some smarting and burning have been sensibly 
produced, with incipient vesication of the outermost skin. 

The JRiinunculas Sceleratus, Marsh Crowfoot, or Celery- 
leaved Buttercup, called in France ^^herhe sardonique" 
and grenouillette (Vemi,'' when made into a tincture (H.) 
with spirit of wine, and given in small diluted doses, proves 
curative of stitch in the side, and of neuralgic pains 
between the ribs, likewise of pleurisy without feverish- 


ness. The dose should be five drops of the third decimal 
tincture with a spoonful of water every three or four 
hours. This plant grows commonly at the sides of our 
pools, and in wet ditches, bearing numerous small yellow 
flowers, with petals scarcely longer than the calyx, 


"The time has come," as the walrus said in Alice and 

the Looking GIas.% " to talk of many things " — 

"Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax ; of Cabbages, and kings." 

The Cabbage, which is fabled to have sprung from 
the tears of the Spartan lawgiver, Lycurgus, began as 
the Colewort, and was for six hundred years, according 
to Pliny and Cato, the only internal remedy used by 
the Eomans. The lonians had such a veneration for 
Cabbages that they swore by them, just as the Egyptians 
did by the onion. With ourselves, the wild Cabbage, 
growing on our English sea cliffs, is the true Collet, or 
Colewort, from which have sprung all our varieties of 
Cabbage — cauliflower, greens, broccoli, etc. No vege- 
tables were grown for the table in England before the 
time of Henry the Eighth. In the thirteenth century 
it was the custom to salt vegetables because they were 
so scarce ; and in the sixteenth century a Cabbage from 
Holland was deemed a choice present. 

The whole tribe of Cabbages is named botanically JBras- 
sicacece — apo ton brasseiii — because they heat, or ferment. 

By natural order they are cruciferous plants ; and all 
contain much nitrogen, or vegetable albumen, with a 
considerable quantity of sulphur ; hence they tend 
strongly to putrefaction, and when decomposed their 
odour is very offensive. Being cut into pieces, and 
pressed close in a tub with aromatic herbs and salt, so 
as to undergo an acescent fermentation (which is 



arrested at that stage), Cabbages form the German 
Saurhmit, which is strongly recommended against 
scurvy. The white Cabbage is most putrescible ; the 
red most emollient and pectoral. The juice of the red 
cabbage made into syrup, without any condiments, 
is useful in chronic coughs, and in bronchial asthma. 
The leaves of the common white Cabbage, when gently 
bruised and applied to a blistered surface, will promote 
a free discharge, as also when laid next the skin in 
dropsy of the ankles. All the Coleworts are called 
"Crambe," from kramhos, dry, because they dispel 

"There is," says an old author, "a natural enmitie 
between the Colewort and the vine, which is such that 
the vine, if growing near unto it, withereth and perisheth ; 
yea, if wine be poured into the Colewort while it is 
boiling, it will not be any more boiled, and the colour 
thereof will be quite altered." The generic term 
Colewort is derived from caulis, a stalk, and ivourte, 
as applied to all kinds of herbs that "do serve for the 
potte." " Good worts," exclaimed FalstafF, catching at 
Evans' faulty pronunciation of words, — "good worts," 
— "good cabbages." An Irish cure for sore throat is 
to tie Cabbage leaves round it ; and the same remedy is 
applied in England with hot Cabbage leaves for a 
swollen face. In the Island of Jersey coarse Cabbages 
are grown abundantly on patches of roadside ground, 
and in corners of fields, the stalks of which attain the 
height of eight, ten, or more feet, and are used for 
making walking sticks or Cannes en tiges de clitmx. 
These are in great demand on the island, and are 
largely exported. It may be that a specially tall 
cabbage of this sort gave rise to the Fairy tale of "Jack 
and the bean stalk." The word Cabbage bears reference 



to caha {caput), a head, as signifying a Colewort which 
forms a round head. Kohl rabi, from caulo-mpum, 
cabbage turnip, is a name given to the Brassica oleracea. 
In 1595 the sum of twenty shillings was paid for six 
Cabbages and a few carrots, at the port of Hull, by the 
purveyor to the Clifford family. 

The red Cabbage is thought in France to be highly 
anti-scorbutic ; and a syrup is made from it with this 
purpose in view. The juice of white Cabbage leaves 
will cure warts. 

The Brassica oleracea is one of the plants used in 
Count Mattsei's vaunted nostrum, " anti-scrofuloso." 
This, the sea Cabbage, with its pale clusters of handsome 
yellow flowers, is very ornamental to our cliffs. Its 
leaves, which are conspicuously purple, have a bitter 
taste when uncooked, but become palatable for boiling 
if first repeatedly washed ; and they are sold at Dover 
as a market vegetable. These should be boiled in two 
waters, of which the first will be made laxative, and the 
second, or thicker decoction, astringent, which fact was 
known to Hippocrates, who said '^jus caulis solvit cujus 
substantia stringit." 

Sir Anthony Ashley brought the Cabbage into English 
cultivation. It is said a Cabbage is sculptured at his 
feet on his monument in Wimbourne Minster, Dorset. 
He imported the Cabbage (Cale) from Cadiz (Cales), 
where he held a command, and grew rich by seizing 
other men's possessions, notably by appropriating some 
jewels entrusted to his care by a lady. Hence he is 
said to have got more by Cales (Cadiz) than by Cale 
(Cabbage) ; and this is, perhaps, the origin of our term 
"to cabbage." Among tailors, this phrase "to cabbage " 
is a cant saying which means to filch the cloth when 
cutting out for a customer. Arbuthnot writes " Your 



tailor, instead of shreds, cabbages whole yards of cloth." 
Perhaps the word comes from the French cabasser, 
to put into a basket. 

From the seed of the wild Cabbage (Rape, or Navew) 
rape-seed oil is extracted, and the residue is called rape- 
cake, or oil-cake. 

Some years ago it was customary to bake bread-rolls 
wrapped in Cabbage leaves, for imparting what was 
considered an agreeable flavour. John Evelyn said : 
" In general, Cabbages are thought to allay fumes, and 
to prevent intoxication ; but some will have them 
noxious to the sight." After all it must be confessed 
the Cabbage is greatly to be accused for lying undi- 
gested in the stomach, and for provoking eructations ; 
which makes one wonder at the veneration the ancients 
had for it, calling the tribe divine, and swearing j^g?- 
brassicam, which was for six hundred years held by the 
Romans a panacea: though JJis crambee thanatos"-— 
"Death by twice Cabbage" — was a Creek proverb. 
Gerard says the Creeks called the Cabbage Amefhusfos, 
not only because it driveth away drunkennesse ; but 
also for that it is like in colour to the pretious stone 
called the amethyst." The Cabbage was Pompey's best 
beloved dish. To make a winter salad it is customary 
in America to choose a firm white Cabbage, and to shred 
it very fine, serving it with a dressing of plain oil and 
vinegar. This goes by the name of "slaw," which has 
a Dutch origin. 

The free presence of hydrogen and sulphur causes a 
very strong and unpleasant smell to pervade the house 
during the cooking of Cabbages. Nevertheless, this 
sulphur is a very salutary constituent of the vegetable, 
most useful in scurvy and scrofula. Partridge and 
Cabbage suit the patrician table ; bacon and Cabbage 



better please the taste and the requirements of the 
proletarian. The nitrogen of this and other cruciferous 
plants serves to make them emit offensive stinks when 
they lie out of doors and rot. 

For the purulent scrofulous ophthalmic inflammation 
of infants, by cleansing the eyes thoroughly every half- 
hour with warm water, and then packing the sockets 
each time with fresh Cabbage lea^'es cleaned and bruised 
to a soft pulp, the flow of matter will be increased for a 
few days, but a cure will be soon effected, Pliny 
commended the juice of the raw Cabbage with a little 
honey for sore and inflamed eyes which were moist and 
weeping, but not for those which were dry and dull. 

In Kent and Sussex, Avhen a Cabbage is cut and the 
stalk left in the ground to produce "greens" for the 
table, a cottager will carve an x on the top flat surface 
of the upright stalk, and thus protect it against 
mischievous garden sprites and demons. 

Some half a century ago medical apprentices were 
taught the art of blood-letting by practising with a 
lancet on the prominent veins of a Cabbage leaf. 

Carlyle said "of all plants the Cabbage grows fastest 
to completion." His parable of the oak and the 
Cabbage conveys the lesson that those things which are 
most richly endowed when they come to perfection, are 
the slowest in their production and development. 


The Cupsicuni, or Bird Pepper, or Guinea Pepper, is a 
native of tropical countries ; but it has been cultivated 
throughout Great Britain as a stove plant for so many 
years (since the time of Gerard, 1636) as to have become 
practically indigenous. Moreover^ its fruit-pods are so 
highly useful, whether as a condiment, or as a medicine, 


that no apology is needed for including it among service- 
able Herbal Simples. The Cayenne pepper of our tables 
is the powdered fruit of Bird PepjDer, a variety of the 
Capsicum plant, and belonging likewise to the order of 
Solanwm ; whilst the customary "hot" pickle which we 
take with our cold meats is prepared from another variety 
of the Capsicum plant called " Chilies." This plant 
— the Bird Pepper — exercises an important medicinal 
action, which has only been recently recognized by 
doctors. The remarkable success which has attended 
the use of Cayenne pepper as a substitute for alcohol 
with hard drinkers, and as a valuable drug in clelirmm 
tremens, has lately led physicians to regard the Capsicum 
as a highly useful, stimulating, and restorative medicine. 
For an intemperate person, who really desires to wean 
himself from taking spirituous liquors, and yet feels to 
need a substitute at first, a mixture of tincture of 
Capsicum with tincture of orange peel and water will 
answer very effectually, the doses being reduced in 
strength and frequency from day to day. In delirium 
tremens, if the tincture of Capsicum be given in doses 
of half-a-dram well diluted with water, it will reduce the 
tremor and agitation in a few hours, inducing presently 
a calm prolonged sleep. At the same time the skin 
will become warm, and will perspire naturally ; the 
pulse will fall in quickness, but whilst regaining fulness 
and volume ; and the kidneys, together with the bowels, 
will act freely. 

Chemically the plant furnishes an essential oil with a 
crystalline principle, capsicin,'' of great power. This 
oil may be taken remedially in doses of from half to one 
drop rubbed up with some powdered white sugar, and 
mixed with a wiueglassful of hot water. 

The medicinal tincture is made with sixteen grains of 



the powdered Capsicum to a fluid ounce of spirit of 
wine ; and the dose of this tincture is from five to twenty 
drops with one or two tal)les250onfuls of water. In the 
smaller doses it serves admirably to relieve pains in the 
loins when depending on a sluggish inactivity of the 
kidneys. Unbroken chilblains may be readily cured by 
rubbing them once a daj^ with a piece of sponge 
saturated with the tincture of Capsicum until a strong 
tingling is induced. In the early part of the j^resent 
century, a medicine of Capsicum with salt was famous 
for curing severe influenza with putrid sore throat. 
Two dessert spoonfuls of small red pepper, or three of 
ordinary cayenne pepper, were beaten together with two 
of fine salt, into a paste, and with half-a-pint of boiling- 
water added thereto. Then the liquor was strained off 
when cold, and half-a-pint of very sharp vinegar was 
mixed with it, a tablespoonful of the unitod mixture 
being given to an adult every half, or full hour, diluted 
with water if too strong. For inflammation of the eyes, 
with a relaxed state of the membranes covering the 
eyeballs and lining the lids, the diluted juice of the 
Capsicum is a sovereign remedy. Again, for toothache 
from a decayed molar, a small quantity of cayenne 
pepper introduced into the cavity will often give 
immediate relief. The tincture or infusion given in 
small doses has proved useful to determine outwardly 
the eruption of measles and scarlet fever, when 
imperfectly developed because of Aveakness. Also for 
a scrofulous discharge of matter from the ears. Capsicum 
tincture, of a weak strength, four drops with a table- 
spoonful of cold water three times a day, to a child, 
will prove curative. 

A Capsicum ointment, or " Chili paste," scarcely ever 
fiiils to relieve chronic rheumatism when rubbed in 



topicall}^ for ten minutes at a time with a gloved hand ; 
and an application afterwards of dry heat will increase 
the redness and warmth, which persist for some while, 
and are renewed by walking. This ointment, or paste, 
is made of the Oleo-resin— Capsicin — half-an-ounce, and 
Lanolin five ounces, the unguent being melted, and, 
after adding the Capsicin, letting them be stirred 
together until cold. The powder or tincture of Capsicum 
will give energy to a languid digestion, and will correct 
the flatulency often incidental to a vegetable diet. 
Again, a gargle containing Capsicum in a proper mea- 
sure will aff'ord prompt relief in many forms of sore 
throat, both by its stimulating action, and by virtue of 
its special affinities (H.) ; this particularly holds good 
for a relaxed state of the throat, the uvula, and the 
tonsils. Cayenne pepper is employed in the adulteration 
of gin. 

The "Peter Piper" of our young memories took 
pickled pepper by the peck. He must have been a 
Homoeopathic prover with a vengeance ; but has left no 
useful record of his experiments — the more's the pity — 
for our guidance when prescribing its diluted forms. 


The common Caraway is a herb of the umbelliferous 
order found growing on many waste places in England, 
though not a true native of Great Britain. Its well- 
known aromatic seeds should be always at hand in the 
cupboard of every British housewife. The plant got 
its name from inhabiting Caria, a province of Asia 
Minor. It is now cultivated for commerce in Kent and 
Essex ; and the essential oil distilled from the home 
grown fruit is preferred in this country. The medicinal 
properties of the Caraway are cordial and comforting to 



the stomach in colic and in flatulent indigestion ; for 
which troubles a dose of from two to four drops of the 
essential oil of Caraway may be given on a lump of 
sugar, or in a teaspoonful of hot water. 

For earache, in some districts the country people 
pound up the crumb of a loaf hot from the oven, 
together with a handful of bruised Caraway seeds ; then 
wetting the whole with some spirit, they apply it to the 
affected part. The plant has been long naturalised in 
England, and was known here in Shakespeare's time, 
who mentions it in the second part of Henry IV. thus : 

Come, cousin Silence ! we will eat a pippin of last 
year's graffing, with a dish of Caraways ; and then to 
bed ! " The seeds grow numerously in the small flat 
flowers placed thickly together on each floral plateau, 
or umbel, and are best known to us in seed cake, and 
in Caraway comfits. They are really the dried fruit, 
and possess, when rubbed in a mortar, a warm aromatic 
taste, with a fragrant spicy smell. Caraway comfits 
consist of these fruits encrusted with white sugar; but 
why the Avife of a comfit maker should be given to 
swearing, as Shakespeare avers, it is not easy to see. 
The young roots of Caraway plants may be sent to 
table like parsnips ; they warm and stimulate a cold 
languid stomach. These mixed with milk and made 
into bread, formed the chara of Julius Csesar, eaten by 
the soldiers of Valerius. Chemically the volatile oil 
obtained from Caraway seeds consists of " carvolj" and 
a hydro-carbon, "carvene," which is a sort of "camphor." 
Dioscorides long ago advised the oil for pale-faced girls ; 
and modern ladies have not disregarded the counsel. 

From six pounds of the unbruised seeds, four ounces 
of the pure essential oil can be expressed. In Germany 
the peasants flavour their cheese, soups, and household 



bread— jager — with the Caraway ; and this is not a 
modern custom, for an old Latin author says : Semina 
carui satis commuidter adldhentur ad condiendum panem ; 
et rustici nostrates esitant jnsculum e pane, seminihus carui, 
et cerevisid codiim. 

The Eussians and Germans make from Caraways a 
favourite liqueur " Kummel," and the Germans add them 
as a flavouring condiment to their sawerkraut. In 
France Caraways enter into the composition of Vhuile 
de Venus, and of other renowned cordials. 

An ounce of the bruised seeds infused for six hours 
in a pint of cold water makes a good Caraway julep 
for infants, from one to three teaspoonfuls for a dose. 
It " consumeth winde, and is delightful to the stomack ; 
the powdered seed put into a poultice taketh away 
bhicke and blew spots of blows and bruises." "The 
oil, or seeds of Caraway do sharpen vision, and promote 
the secretion of milk." Therefore dim-sighted men and 
nursing mothers may courageously indulge in seed cake ! 

The name Caraway comes from the G£elic Caroh, a 
ship, because of the shape which the fruit takes. By 
cultivation the root becomes more succulent, and the 
fruit larger, whilst more oily, and therefore acquiring an 
increase of aromatic taste and odour. In Germany the 
seeds are given for hysterical affections, being finely 
powdered and mixed with ginger and salt to spread 
with butter on bread. As a draught for flatulent colic 
twenty grains of the powdered seeds may be taken with 
two teaspoonfuls of sugar in a wineglassful of hot water. 
Caraway-seed cake was formerly a standing institution 
at the feasts given by farmers to their labourers at the 
end of wheat sowing. But narcotic effects have been 
knov/n to follow the chewing of Carav^ay seeds in a 
large quantity, such as three ounces at a time. 



As regards its stock of honey tlie Caraway may be 
termed, like Uriah Heep, and in a double sense, 
"truly umbel." The diminutive florets on its flat disk 
are so shallow that lepidopterous and hymenopterous 
insects, with their long proboses, stand no chance of 
getting a meal. They fare as poorlj^ as the stork did 
in the fable, whom -the fox invited to dinner served 
on a soup plate. As Sir John Lubbock has shown, out of 
fifty-five visitants to the Caraway plant for nectar, one 
moth, nine bees, twenty-one flies, and twenty-four 
miscellaneous midges constituted the dinner party. 


No Simple in the whole catalogue of herbal medicines 
is possessed of a quality more friendly and beneficial 
to the intestines than "Chamomile flowers." This 
herb was well known to the Greeks, who thought it 
had an odour like that of apples, and therefore they 
named it "Earth Apple," from two of their words, 
kamai — on the ground, and melon — an apple. The 
Spaniards call it Man.mnilla, from a little apple, and 
they give the same name to one of their lightest 
sherries flavoured with this plant. The flowers, or 
"blows" of the Chamomile belong to the daisy genus, 
having an outer fringe of Avhite ray florets, with a 
central yellow disk, in which lies the chief medicinal 
virtue of the plant. In the cultivated Chamomile the 
white petals increase, while the yellow centre diminishes ; 
thus it is that the curative properties of the wild 
Chamomile are the more powerful. The true Chamomile 
is to be distinguished from the bitter Chamomile {matri- 
caria chamomilla) which has weaker properties, and grows 
erect, with several flowers at a level on the same stalk. 
The true Chamomile grows prostrate, and produces but 


one flower (with a convex, not conical, yellow disk) from 
each stem, whilst its leaves are divided into hair-like 
segments. The flowers exhale a powerful aromatic smell, 
and present a peculiar bitter to the taste. Wheii 
distilled with water they yield a small quantity of most 
useful essential oil, which, if fresh and good, is always 
of a bluish colour. It should be green or l)lue, and not 
faded to yellow. This oil is a mixture of ethers, among 
which " chamomilline," or the valerianate of butyl, 
predominates. Medicinally it serves to lower nervous 
excitability reflected from some organ in trouble, but 
remote from the part where the pain is actually felt ; 
so it is very useful for such spasmodic coughs as are due 
to indigestion ; also for distal neuralgia, pains in the 
head or limbs from the same cause, and for nervous colic 
of the bowels. The oil may be given in doses of from 
two to four drops on a lump of sugar, or in a dessert- 
spoonful of milk. An officinal tincture (Imdura 
aiitlieiiiidis) is made from the flowers of the true 
Chamomile (Antheviis nobilis) with rectified spirit of wine. 
The dose of this is from three to ten drops with a 
spoonful of water. It serves usefully to correct the sum- 
mer diarrhoea of children, or that which occurs during 
teething, when the stools are green, slimy and parti- 
coloured. The true Chamomile, the bitter Chamomile, 
and the Feverfew, are most obnoxious to flies and 
mosquitoes. An infusion of their respective leaves in 
spirit will, if used as a wash to the face, arms, or any 
exposed part of the body, protect effectually from an 
attack by these petty foes, which are quaintly described 
in an old version of our Bible as "the pestilence that 
walketh in the darkness, and the bug that destroyetli at 
noonday." Chamomile tea is an excellent stomachic 
when taken in moderate doses of half-a-teacupful at a 


time. It should be made by pouring half-a-pint of 
boiling water on half-an-ounce of the dried flower heads, 
and letting this stand for fifteen minutes. A special 
tincture (H.) of ChamomiHa is made from the bitter 
Chamomile {^latrkaria), which, when given in small 
doses of three or four drops in a dessertspoonful of cold 
water every hour, will signally relieve severe neuralgic 
pains, particularly if they are aggravated at night. 
Likewise this remedy will quickly cure restlessness and 
fretfulness in children from teething, and who refuse to 
be soothed save by being carried about. 

The name, Matricaria, of the bitter Chamomile is 
derived from mater cara, "beloved mother," because the 
herb is dedicated to St. Anne, the reputed mother of the 
Virgin Mary, or from luatrLr, as meaning "the womb." 
This herb may be known from the true Chamomile 
because having a large, yellow, conical disk, and no 
scales on the receptacles. 

Chamomile tea is also an excellent drink for giving to 
aged persons an hour or more before dinner. Franca- 
telli directs that it should be made thus : " Put about 
thirty flowers into a jug, and pour a pint of boiling 
water on them ; cover up the tea, and when it has stood 
for about ten minutes pour it off" from the flowers into 
another jug, and sweeten with sugar or honey." A tea- 
cupful of this Chamomile tea, into which is stirred a large 
dessertspoonful of moist sugar, with a little grated ginger 
added, will answer the purpose now indicated. For 
outward application, to relieve inflammatory pains, or 
congestive neuralgia, hot fomentations made of the 
infused Chamomile "blows " are invaluable. Bags may 
be loosely stufl'ed with the flowers, and steeped well in 
boiling water before being applied. But for internal use 
the infusion and the extract of the herb are comparatively 



useless, because much of the volatile essential oil is 
dissipated by boiling, or by dry heat. This oil made 
into pills with bread crumbs, and given whilst fasting two 
hours before a meal, will effectually dispel intestinal 
worms. Tiue Chamomile flowers may be known from 
spurious ones (of the Feverfew) which have no bracts on 
the receptacle when the florets are removed. 

It is remarkable that each Chamomile is a plant 
physician, as nothing contributes so much to the health 
of a garden as a number of Chamomile herbs dispersed 
about it. Singularly enough, if another plant is drooping, 
and apparently dying, in nine cases out of ten it will 
recover if you place a herb of Chamomile near it. 

The stinking Chamomile (Antheniis cvtida) or May- 
weed, grows in cornfields, having a foetid smell, and 
often blistering the hand which gathers it. Another 
name which it bears is "dog's fennel," because of the 
disagreeable odour, and the leaf resembling fennel. 
Similar uses may be made of it as with the other 
Chamomiles, but less effectively. It has solitary flowers 
with erect stems. 

Dr. Schall declares that the Chamomile is not only a 
preventive of nightmare, but the sole certain remedy for 
this complaint. As a carminative injection for tiresome 
flatulence, it has been found eminently beneficial to 
employ Chamomile flowers boiled in tripe broth, and 
strained through a cloth, and with a few drops of the 
oil of Aniseed added to the decoction. 

Falstaffe says in Henry IV. : " Though Chamomile, the 
more it is trodden on the faster it grows ; yet youth, the 
more it is wasted the sooner it wears." For coarse 
feeders and drunkards Chamomile is peculiarly suitable. 
Its infusion will cut short an attack of delirium tremens 
in the early stage. Gerard found the oil of the flowers 



a remedy against all weariness ; and quaint old 
Culpeper reminds us that the Egyptians dedicated the 
Chamomile to the sun because it cured agues. He slyly 
adds : " They were like enough to do it, for they were 
the arrantest apes in their religion I ever read of." 


Our garden Carrot, or Dauke, is a cultivated variety of 
the Daucus Sf/lveMris, or wild carrot, an umbelliferous 
plant, which groweth of itself in untoiled places, and 
is called p/iiltroii, because it serveth for love matters. 
This wild Carrot may be found abundantly in our fields 
and on the sea shore ; the term Carrot being Celtic, and 
signifying "red of colour," or perhaps derived from 
caro, flesh, because this is a fleshy vegetable. Daucus is 
from the Greek daio, to burn, on account of the pungent 
and stimulating qualities. It is common also on our 
roadsides, being popularly known as " Bee's nest," 
because the stems of its flowering head, or umbel, form 
a concave semi-circle, or nest, which bees, when belated 
from the hive will use as a dormitory. The small 
purple flower which grows in the middle of the umbel 
has been found beneficial for the cure of epilepsy. The 
juice of the Carrot contains " carotine " in red crystals ; 
also pectin, albumen, and a particular volatile oil, on 
which the medicinal properties of the root depend. 
The seeds are warm and aromatic to the taste, whilst 
they are slightly diuretic. A tea made from the whole 
plant, and taken each night and morning, is excellent 
when the lithic acid, or gouty disposition prevails, with 
the deposit of a brick-dust sediment in the urine on Ils 
becoming cool. 

The chief virtues of Carrots lie in the strong antiseptic 
qualities they possess, which prevent all putrescent 



changes within the body. In Suffolk they were given 
long since as a secret specific for preserving and restor- 
ing the wind of horses, but cows if fed long on them 
will make bloody urine. Wild Carrots are superior 
medicinally to those of the cultivated kind. Carrot 
sugar got from the inspissated juice of the roots may be 
used at table, and is good for the coughs of consumptive 
children. The seeds of the wild Carrot were formerly 
esteemed as a specific remedy for jaundice ; and in 
Savoy the peasants now give an infusion of the roots 
for the same purpose ; whilst this infusion has served 
to prevent stone in the bladder throughout several 
years when the patient had been previously subject to 
frequent attacks. 

Carrots boiled sufficiently, and mashed into a pulp, 
when applied directly to a putrid, indolent sore, will 
sweeten and heal it. The Carrot poultice was first used 
by Sulzer for mitigating the pain, and correcting the 
stench of foul ulcers. Raw scraped Carrot is an excel- 
lent plaster for chapped nipples. At Yichy, where de- 
rangements of the liver and of the biliary digestion are 
particukrly treated, Carrots in one or another form are 
served at every meal, whether in soup, or as a vegetable; 
and considerable efficacy of cure is attributed to them. 
In the time of Parkinson (1640) the leaves of the Carrot 
were thought to be so ornamental that ladies wore them 
as a head-dress instead of feathers. A good British wine 
may be brev^ed from the roots of the Carrot ; and very 
tolerable bread may be prepared for travellers from these 
roots when dried and powdered. Pectic acid can be ex- 
tracted by the chemist from Carrots, which will solidify 
plain sugared water into a wholesome appetising jelly. 
One part of this pectic acid dissolved in a little hot water, 
and added to make three hundred parts of warm water, 



is soon converted into a mass of trembling jelly. The 
3'ellow core of the Carrot is the part which is difficult of 
digestion with some persons, not the outer red layer. 
Before the French Revolution the sale of Carrots and 
oranges was prohibited in the Dutch marketS; because 
of the unpopular aristocratic colour of these commodi- 
ties. In one thousand parts of a Carrot there are ninety- 
five of sugar, and (according to some chemists) only three 
of starch. In country districts raw Carrots are some- 
times given to children for expelling worms, probably 
because the vegetable matter passes mechanically through 
the body unchanged, and scours it. Remember, Wil- 
liam," says Sir Hugh Evans in the Mern/ IVives of 
Windsor^ " Focative is Caret,'' " and that " replies Mrs. 
Quickly, " is a good root." 

" The man in the moon drinks claret, 
But he is a dull Jack-a-dandy ; 
Would he know a sheep's head from a Carrot 
He should learn to drink cider and brandy.'' 

Song of Mad Tom in Midsummer Night's Dream. 

CELANDINE (Greater, and Lesser). 

This latter flower is a conspicuous herald of spring, which 
is strikingly welcome to every one living in the country 
throughout England, and a stranger to none. The Pile- 
wort, or lesser Celandine, bespangles all our banks with 
its brilliant, glossy, golden stars, coming into blossom 
on or about March 7th, St. Perpetua's day. They are a 
timely tocsin for five o'clock tea, because punctually at 
that hour they shut up their showj^ petals until 9.0 a.m. 
on the following morning. The well-known little herb, 
with its heart-shaped leaves, is a Ranunculus, and bears 
the affix ficaria from its curative value in the malady called 
ficus — a "red sore in the fundament " (Littleton, 1684). 



The popular title, Pilewort, from Pila, a ball, was 
probably first acquired because, yfter the doctrine of 
signatures, the small oval tubercles attached to its 
stringy roots were supposed to resemble and to cure 
piles. Nevertheless, it has been since proved prac- 
tically that the whole plant, when bruised and made 
into an ointment with fresh lard, is really useful for 
healing piles ; as likewise when supplied to the part in the 
form of a poultice or hot fomentation. " There be those 
also who thinke that if the herbe be but carried about 
by one that hath the piles the paine forthwith ceaseth." 
It has sometimes happened that the small white tuber- 
cles collected about the roots of the plant, when washed 
bare by heavy rains, and lying free on the ground, 
have given rise to a supj^osed shower of wheat. After 
flowerinc; the Pilewort withdraws its sul)stance of leaf 
and stem into a small rcunded tube underground, so as 
to withstand the heat of summer, and the cold of the 
subsequent winter. 

With the acrid juice of this herb, and of others 
belonging to the same Ranunculous order, beggars in 
England used to produce sores about their body for the 
sake of exciting pity, and getting alms. They afterwards 
cured these sores by applying fresh mullein leaves to heal 
them. The lesser Celandine furnishes a golden yellow 
volatile oil, which is readily converted into anemonic acid. 

Wordsworth specially loved this lesser Celandine, 
and turned his lyre to sing its praises : — 

" There is a flower that shall be mine, 
'Tis the little Celandine ; 
I will sing as doth behove 
Hymns in praise of what I love." 

In token of which affectionate regard these flowers have 
been carved on the white marble of his tomb. 



The greater Celandine, or Cceli donum (Chelidonium 
iiuijus), though growing freely in our waste places and 
hedgerows, is, perhaps, scarcely so well known as its 
diminutive namesake. Yet most persons acquainted 
with our ordinary rural plants have repeatedly come 
across this conspicuous herb, which exudes a bright 
yellow juice when bruised. It has sharply cut vivid 
leaves of a dull green, with a small blossom of brilliant 
yellow, and is not altogether unlike a buttercup, though 
growing to the height of a couple of feet. But this 
Celandine belongs to the Poppy tribe, whilst the 
Kuttei'cup is a Ranunculus. The technical name of the 
greater Celandine {Cheiidoniaiii) comes from the Greek 
word Chfdidon, a swallow, l^ecause of an ancient tradition 
that the bird makes use of this herb to open the eyes of 
its young, or to restore their sight when it has been 
lost : — 

"Csecatis pullis hac lamina mater hirunclo 
(Plinius ut scripsit) quamvis sint eruta, reddit." 

The ancients entertained a strong belief that birds are 
gifted with a knowledge of herbs ; the woodpecker, for 
instance, seeking out the Spring wort to remove obstruc- 
tions, and the linnet making use of the Eyebright to 
restore its vision. 

Queen Elizabeth in the forty-sixth year of her age was 
attacked with such a grievous toothache that she could 
obtain no rest by night or day because of the torture 
she endured. The lords of her council decided on 
sending for an " outlandish physician " named Penatus, 
who was famous for curing this agonising pain. He 
advised that when all was said and done, if the tooth 
was hollow, it were best to have it drawn ; but as Her 
Majesty could not bring herself to submit to the use of 



chirurgical instruments, he suggested that the CheJi- 
donins major — our greater Celandine — should be put 
into the tooth, and this stopped with wax, which would 
so loosen the tooth that in a short time it might be 
pulled out with the fingers. Aylmer, Bishop of London, 
tried to encourage the Queen by telling her that though 
he w^as an old man, and had not many teeth to spare, 
she should see a practical experiment made on himself. 
Thereupon he bade the surgeon who was in attendance 
extract one of his teeth in Her Majesty's presence. 

This plant, the Chelidonmm majus, is still used in 
Suffolk for toothache by way of fomentation. It goes 
also by the name of "Fenugreek" (Fosnnm Grcecum), 
Yellow Spit, Grecian Hay, and by that of Tetterwort. 
The root contains chemically " chelidonin " and 
" sanguinarin." 

On the doctrine of signatures the herb, because of its 
bright orange-coloured juice, was formerly believed to 
be curative of jaundice. A medicinal tincture (H.) 
made from the entire plant with spirit of wine is at the 
present time held in high esteem by many physicians 
for overcoming torpid conditions of the liver. Eight or 
ten drops of this tincture, oi- of the fresh juice of the 
plant, may be given for a dose three times in the day in 
sweetened water when bilious yellowness of the skin is 
present, with itching, and with clayey stools, dark thick 
urine, constipation, and a pain in the right shoulder ; 
also for neuralgia of the head and face on the right side. 
It is certainly remarkable that though the fanciful 
theory of choosing curative plants by their signatures 
has been long since exploded, yet doctors of to-day 
select several yellow medicines for treating biliary 
disorders — to wit, this greater Celandine with its 
ochreous juice ; the Yellow Barberry ; the Dandelion ; 



the Golden Seal (Hydrastis); the Marigold; Orange; 
Saffron ; and Tomato. Animals poisoned hy the greater 
Celandine have developed active and pernicious con- 
gestion of the lungs and liver. Clusius found by 
experience that the juice of the greater Celandine, when 
squeezed into small green wounds of what sort so ever, 
wonderfully cured them. "If the juice to the bigness 
of a pin's head be dropped into the eye in the morning 
in bed, it takes away outward specks, and stops incipient 
suffusions." Also if the yellow juice is applied to warts, 
or to corns, first gently scraped, it will cure them 
promptly and painlessly. The greater Celandine is by 
genus closely allied to the horned Poppy which grows 
so abundantly on our coasts. Its tincture given in small 
doses proves of considerable service in whooping-cough 
when very spasmodic. 

Curious remedies for this complaint have found rustic 
favour: in Yorkshire owl broth is considered to be a 
specific ; again in Gloucestershire a roasted mouse is 
given to be eaten by the patient ; and in Staffordshire 
the child is made to look at the new moon whilst the 
right hand of the nurse is rubbed up and down its bare 


The Parsleys are botanically named Selinon, and by 
some verbal accident, through the middle letter " n " in 
this word being changed into " r," making it Seliron, or, 
in the Italian, Celeri, our Celery (which is a Parsley) 
obtained its title. It is a cultivated variety of the 
common Smallage (Small ache) or wild Celery (Ajjium 
yraveole7is\ which grows abundantly in moist English 
ditches, or in water. This is an umbelliferous herb, 
unwholesome as a food, and having a coarse root, with 



a tebid smell. But, like many others of the same 
natural order, when transplanted into the garden, and 
bleached, it becomes aromatic and healthful, making an 
excellent condimentary vegetable. But more than this, 
the cultivated Celery may well take rank as a curative 
Herbal Simple. Dr. Pereira has shown us that it con- 
tains sulphur (a known preventive of rheumatism) as 
freely as do the cruciferous plants. Mustard, and the 
Cresses. In 1879, Mr. Gibson Ward, then President of 
the Vegetarian Society, wrote some letters to the Times, 
which commanded much attention, about Celery as a 
food and a medicament. "Celery," said he, "when 
cooked, is a very fine dish, both as a nutriment and as a 
purifier of the blood. I will not attempt to enumerate 
all the marvellous cures I have made with Celery, lest 
medical men should be worrying me en masse. Let me 
fearlessly say that rheumatism is impossible on this 
diet; and yet English doctors in 1876 allowed rheuma- 
tism to kill three thousand six hundred and forty human 
beings, every death being as unnecessary as is a dirty 

The seeds of our Sweet Celery are carminative, and 
act on the kidneys. An admirable tincture is made 
from these seeds, when bruised, with spirit of wine ; of 
which a teaspoonful may be taken three times a day, 
with a spoonful or two of water. The root of the Wild 
Celery, Smallage, or Marsh Parsley, was reckoned, by 
the ancients, one of the five great aperient roots, and 
was employed in their diet drinks. The Great Parsley 
is the Large Age, or Large Ache; as a strange incon- 
sistency the Romans adorned the heads of their guests, 
and the tombs of their dead with crowns of the 
Smallage. Our cultivated Celery is a capital instance of 
the fact that most of the poisonous plants can, by 



human ingenuity, be so altered in character as to 
become eminently serviceable for food or medicine. 
Thus, the Wild Celery, which is certainly poisonous 
when growing exposed to daylight, becomes most 
palatable, and even beneficial, by having its edible leaf 
stalks earthed up and bleached during their time of 

Dr. Pereira says the digestibility of Celery is increased 
by its maceration in vinegar. As taken at table. Celery 
possesses certain qualities which tend to soothe nervous 
irritability, and to relieve sick headaches. " This herb 
Celery [Sellery] is for its high and grateful taste," says 
John Evelyn, in his Acetaria, "ever placed in the middle 
of the grand sallet at our great men's tables, and our 
Praetor's feasts, as the grace of the whole board." It 
contains some sugar and a volatile odorous principle, 
which in the wild plant smells and tastes strongly and 
disagreeably. The characteristic odour and flavour of 
the cultivated plant are due to this essential oil, which 
has now become of modified strength and qualities; also 
when freshly cut it affords albumen, starch, mucilage, 
and mineral matter. Why Celery accompanies cheese 
at the end of dinner it is not easy to see. This is as 
much a puzzle as why sucking pig and prune sauce 
should be taken in combination, — of which delicacies 
James Bloomfield Eush, the Norwich murderer, desired 
that plenty should be served for his supper the night 
before he was hanged, on April 20th, 1849. 


Of all the bitter appetising herbs which grow in our 
fields and hedgerows, and which serve as excellent 
simple tonics, the Centaury, particularly its white 
flowered variety, belonging to the Gentian order of 



plants, is the most efficacious. It shares in an abundant 
measure the restorative antiseptic virtues of the Field 
Gentian and the Buckbean. There are four Avild 
varieties of the Centaury, square stemmed, and each 
bearing flat tufts of flowers which are more or less rose 
coloured. The ancients named this bitter plant the Gall 
of the Earth, and it is now known as Christ's Ladder, 
or Felwort. 

Though growing commonly in dry pastures, in 
woods, and on chalky cliffs, yet the Centaury 
cannot be reared in a garden. Of old its tribe was 
called "Chironia," after Chiron, the Greek Centaur, 
well skilled in herbal physic ; and most probably the 
name of our English plant was thus originated. But 
the Germans call the Centaury Taasendgalden knmt — 
" the herb of a thousand florins, ' — either because of its 
high medicinal value, or as a corruption of Centurii 
aureiun, "a hundred golden sovereigns." Centaury has 
become popularly reduced in Worcestershire to Centre 
of the Sun. Its generic adjective " erythroea " signifies 
red. The flowers open only in fine weather, and not after- 
twelve o'clock (noon) in the day. Chemically the herb 
contains erythrocentaurin — a bitter principle of com- 
pound character, — together with the usual herbal 
constituents, but with scarcely any tannin. The tops of 
the Centaury, especially of that flore alho — with the 
light coloured petals — are given in infusion, or in 
powder, or when made into an extract. For languid 
digestion, with heartburn after food, and a want of 
appetite, the infusion prepared with cold water, an ounce 
of the herb to a pint, is best ; but for muscular rheumatism 
the infusion should be made with boiling water. A 
winegiassful of either will be the proper dose, two or 
three times a day. 




The wild Cherry (Cerasus), which occurs of two distinct 
kinds, has by budding and grafting begotten most of our 
finest garden fruits of its genus. The name Cerasits was 
derived from Kerasous, a city of Cappadocia, where the 
fruit was plentiful. According to Pliny, Cherries were 
first brought to Rome by Lucullus after his great 
victory over Mithridates, 89 B.C. The cultivated 
Cherry disappeared in this country during the Saxon 
period, and was not re-introduced until the reign of 
Henry VIII. The Cerasus sylvestris is a wild Cherrj^ tree 
rising to the height of thirty or forty feet, and producing 
innumerable small globose fruits ; whilst the Cerasus 
vulgaris, another wild Cherry, is a mere shrub, called 
Cerevisier in France, of which the fruit is sour and bitter. 
Cherry stones have been found in the primitive lake 
dwellings of ^Yestern Switzerland. There is a tradition 
that Christ gave a Cherry to St. Peter, admonishing him 
not to despise little things. In the time of Charles the 
First, Herrick, the clergyman poet, wrote a simple song, 
to which our well-known pretty " Cherry Ivipe " has 
been adapted : — 

" Cherry ripe ! ripe ! I cry, 
Full and fair ones ! come, and buy ! 

If so be you ask me where 
They do grow : I answer there 
Where my Julia's lips do smile, 
There's the land : a cherry isle." 

"Cherries on the ryse" (or, on twigs) was well known as 
a London street cry in the fifteenth century ; but these 
were probably the fruit of the wild Cherry, or Gean 
tree. In France soup made from Cherries, and taken 
with bread, is the common sustenance of the wood 
cutters and charcoal burners of the forest during the 



winter. The French distil from Cherries a liqueur 
named Eau de Cerises, or, in German, Kirschwasser ; 
whilst the Italians prepare from a Cherry called 
Marusca the liqueur noted as Mamsqiiin. Cherries termed 
as Mazzards are grown in Devon and Cornwall. A gum 
exudes from the bark of the Cherry tree which is equal 
in value to gum arable. A caravan going from Ethiopia 
to Egypt, says Husselquist, and a garrison of more than 
two hundred men during a siege which lasted two 
months, were kept alive with no other food than this 
gum, "which they sucked often and slowly." It is 
known chemically as "cerasin," and differs from gum 
acacia in being less soluble. 

The leaves of the tree and the kernels of the fruit 
contain a basis of prussic acid. 

The American wild Cherry (Prunus virginiana) yields 
from its bark a larger quantity of the prussic acid 
principle, which is sedative to the nervous centres, and 
also some considerable tannin. As an infusion, or syrup, 
or vegetable extract, it will allay nervous palpitation of 
the heart, and will quiet the irritative hectic cough of 
consumption, whilst tending to ameliorate the impaired 
digestion. Its preparations can be readily had from our 
leading druggists, and are found to be highly useful. A 
teaspoonful of the syrup, with one or two tablespoonfuls 
of cold water, is a dose for an adult every three or four 
hours. The oozing of the gum-tears from the trunk and 
boughs is due to the operation of a minute parasitic 
fungus. Helena, in the Miclsiiimner Nigld's Dream, paints 
a charming picture of the close affection between Hermia 
and herself — 

" So we grew together 
Like to a double Cherry — seeming parted, 
But yet a union in partition : 
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem." 



"There is found," writes Parkinson, "during June and 
July, in almost every English hedge, a certain plant 
called Clueropliylluin, in show very like unto Hemlockes, 
of a good and pleasant smell and taste, which have 
caused us to term it 'Sweet Chervill.'" And in modern 
times this plant has taken rank as a pot herb in our 
gardens, though its virtues and uses are not sufficiently 
known. "The root is great, thick and long, exceedingly 
sweet in smell, and tasting like unto anise seeds. This 
root is much used among the Dutch people in a kind of 
loblolly or hotchpot, which they do eat, calling it warm its. 
The seeds taken as a salad whilst they are yet green, 
exceed all other salads by many degrees in pleasantness 
of taste, sweetness of smell, and wholesomeness for the 
cold and feeble stomach." In common with other 
camphoraceous and strongly aromatic herl)S, by reascjii 
of its volatile oil and its terebinthine properties, the 
Scandix, or Sweet Chervil, was entitled to make one of 
the choice spices used for composing the holy oil with 
which the sacred vessels of the Tabernacle were anointed 
by Moses. It belongs to the particular group of 
umbelliferous plants which is endowed with balsamic 
gums, and with carminative essences appealing power- 
fully to the sense of smell. 

The herb Chervil was in the mind of Roman Catullus 
when discoursing sweet verses of old to his friend 
Fabullus :— 

•'Nam ungLientum dabo quod meoe puellos 
Donaiunt veneres, cupidinesque. 
Quod tu quum olfacies deo rogabis 
Totum lit te faciat. Fabulle ! nasum," 
*' I will give you a perfume my damsels gave me, 
Sweet daughters of Venus, sad hoydens are ye ! 
Which the moment you smell will incite you to pray 
My Fabullus! to live as 'all nose' from that day." 




Evelyn taught (1565) that " the tender tops of 
Gherville should never be wanting in our sallets, being 
exceeding wholesome, and chearing the spirits; also that 
the roots boiled and cold are to be much commended for 
aged persons." But in 1745 several Dutch soldiers were 
})oisoned by eating the rough wild Chervil, from which 
the cultivated sweet variety is to be distinguished by 
its having its stems swollen beneath the joints — much 
as our blue-blooded patricians are signalised by gouty 
kiuickles and bunioned feet. 

The botanical name of the Sweet Chervil (CJuero- 
pliijllnin) signifies a plant which rejoices the heart — 
Kairei-phyllum. "The roots," said an old writer, "ai'c 
very good for old people that are dull and without 
courage ; they gladden and comfort the spirits, and do 
increase their lusty strength." The juice is slightly 
aperient, and abundantly lacteal when mixed with goat's 
milk, or in gruel. Physicians formerly held this herb 
in high esteem, as capable of curing most chronic 
disorders connected with the urinary passages, and 
gravel. Some have even asserted that if these dis- 
tempers will not yield to a constant use of Chervil, they 
will be scarcely curable by any other medicine. The 
Wild Chervil will "help to dissolve any tumours or 
swellings in all parts of the body speedily, if applied to 
the place, as also to take away the spots and marks in 
the flesh and skin, of congealed blood by blows or 
bruises." The feathery leaves of Chervil, which are of 
a bright emerald hue in the spring, become of a rich 
purple in the autumn, just as the objectionably carroty 
locks of Tittlebat Titmouse, in Ten TliGUsand a Year, 
])ecame vividly green under "Cyanochaitanthropopoion," 
and were afterwards strangely empurpled by " Tetrag- 
menon abracadabra," at nine and sixpence the bottle. 



CHESTNUTS (Horse, and Sweet). 

Ever since 1633 the Horse Chestnut tree has grown and 
flourished in Enghind, having been brought at first from 
the mountains of Northern Asia. For the most part it 
is rather known and admired for its wealth of shade, its 
large handsome floral spikes of creamy, pink-tinted 
blossom, and its white, soft wood, than supposed to 
exercise useful medicinal properties. But none the less 
is this tree remarkable for the curative virtues contained 
ill its large nuts of mahogany polish, its broad palmate 
leaves, and its smooth silvery bark. These virtues 
have been discovered and made public especially by 
physicians and chemists of the homoeopathic school. 
From the large digitated leaves an extract is made 
which has proved of service in whooping-cough, and of 
which from one-third to half a teaspoonful may be given 
for a dose. On the Continent the bark is held in 
estimation for cutting short attacks of intermittent 
fever and ague by acting in the same way as Peruvian 
bark, though it is much more astringent. But the nuts 
are chiefly to be regarded as the medicinal belongings of 
the Horse Chestnut tree ; and their bodily sphere of 
action is the rectum, or lower bowel, in cases of piles, 
and of obstinate constipation. Their use is particularly 
indicated when the bottom of the back gives out on 
walking, with aching and a sense of weariness in that 
region. Likewise, signal relief is found to be wrought 
by the same remedy when the throat is duskily red and 
dry, in conjunction with costiveness, and piles. A 
tincture is made (H.) from the ripe nuts with spirit of 
wine, for the purposes described above, or the nuts 
themselves are finely powdered and given in that form. 
These nuts are starchy, and contain so much potash, 
that they may be used when boiled for washing purposes. 



In France and Switzerland they are employed for 
cleansing wool and bleaching linen, on account of their 
"saponin." Botanically, the Horse Chestnut is named 
Msculus hipiwcastanea — the first word coming from esca, 
food ; and the second from, hippos, a horse ; and Castana, 
the city, so called. The epithet "horse" does not impl}' 
any remedial use in diseases of that animal, but rather 
the size and coarseness of this species as compared with 
the Sweet Spanish Chestnut. In the same way we talk 
of the horse radish, the horse daisy, and the horse leech. 
In Turkey the fruit is given to horses touched or broken 
in the wind, but in this country horses will not eat it. 
Nevertheless, Horse Chestnuts may be used for fattening 
cattle, particularly sheep, the nuts being cut up, and 
mixed with oats, or beans. Their bitterness can be 
removed by first washing the Chestnuts in lime water. 
Medicinally, the ripe nut of this tree is employed, being- 
collected in September or October, and deprived of its 
shell. The odour of the flowers is powerful and 
peculiar. No chemical analysis of them, or of the nuts, 
has been made, but they are found to contain tannin 
freely. Rich-coloured, of a reddish brown, and glossy, 
these nuts have given their name to a certain shade of 
mellow dark auburn hair. Eosalind, in As You Like It^ 
says "Orlando's locks are of a good colour: I' faith your 
Chestnut was ever the only colour." 

Of the Horse Chestnut tincture, two or three drops, 
with a spoonful of water, taken before meals and at 
bedtime, will cure almost any simple case of piles in a 
week. Also, carrying a Horse Chestnut about the 
person, is said to obviate giddiness, and to prevent 

Taken altogether, the Horse Chestnut, for its 
splendour of blossom, and wealth of umbrageous leaf, 


its polished mahogany fruit, and its special medicinal 
virtues, is facile jmncejis the belle of our English trees. 
But, like many a ball-room beauty, when the time comes 
for putting aside the gay leafy attire, it is sadly untidy, 
and makes a great litter of its cast-ofF clothing. 

It has been ingeniously suggested that the cicatrix of 
the leaf resembles a horse-shoe, with all its nails evenly 

The Sweet Spanish Chestnut tree is grown much less 
commonly in this country, and its fruit affords only 
material for food, without possessing medicinal proper- 
ties ; though, in the United States of America, an 
infusion of the leaves is thought to be useful for staying 
the paroxysms of whooping-cough. Of all known nuts, 
this (the Sweet Chestnut, Stover Nut, or Meat Nut) is 
the most farinaceous and least oily; hence It is more 
easy of digestion than any other. To mountaineers it is 
invaluable, so that on the Apennines and the Pyrenees 
the Chestnut harvest is the event of the year. The 
Italian Chestnut-cakes, called need, contain forty per 
cent, of nutritious matter soluble in cold water ; and 
Chestnut flour, when properly prepared, is a capital food 
for children. 

To be harvested the Chestnuts are spread on a frame 
of lattice-work overhead, and a fire is kept burning 
underneath. When dry the fruit is boiled, or steamed, 
or roasted, or ground into a kind of flour, with which 
puddings are made, or an excellent kind of bread is 
produced. The ripe Chestnut possesses a fine creamy 
flavour, and when roasted it becomes almost aromatic. 
A good way to cook Chestnuts is to boil them for 
twenty minutes, and then place them for five minutes 
more in a Dutch oven. 

It was about the fruit of the Spanish tree Shakespeare 



said : "A woman's tongue gives not half so great a blow 
to the ear as will a Chestnut in a farmer's fire." In the 
United States of America an old time-worn story, or oft 
repeated tale, is called in banter a " Chestnut," and a 
stale joker is told "not to rattle the Chestnuts." 

For convalescents, after a long serious illness, the 
French make a chocolate of sweet Chestnuts, which is 
highly restorative The nuts are first cooked in eau de 
vie until their shells and the pellicle of the kernels can 
be peeled off"; then they are beaten into a pulp together 
with sufficient milk and sugar, with some cinnamon, 
kidded. The mixture is afterwards boiled with more 
milk, and frothed up in a chocolate pot. 


Chickweed — called Alsine or Stellaria media, a floral 
star of middle magnitude — -belongs to the Clove-pink 
order of plants, and, despite the most severe weather, 
grows with us all the year round, in waste places by the 
roadsides, and as a garden weed. It is easily known by 
its fresh-looking, juicy, verdant little leaves, and by its 
tiny white star-like flowers ', also by a line of small stifl" 
hairs, which runs up one side of the stalk like a vegetable 
hog-mane, and when it reaches a pair of leaves imme- 
diately shifts its position, and runs up higher on the 
opposite side. 

The fact of our finding Chickweed (and Groundsel) in 
England, as well as on the mainland of Europe, aflbrds a 
proof that Britain, when repeopled after the great 
Ice age, must have been united somewhere to the Con- 
tinent; and its having lasted from earliest times through- 
out Europe, North America, and Siberia, seem.s to show 
that this modest plant must be possessed of some 
universal utility which has enabled it to hold its own 



until now in the great evolutionary struggle. It grows 
wild all over the earth, and serves pvS food for small 
birds, such as finches, linnets, and other feathered 
songsters of the woods. Moreover, we read in the old 
herbal of Turner : Qui alunt aviculas caveis inclusas hoc 
Solent ill as si qmndo cibos fastigiant recreare — or, as Gerard 
translates this: "Little birds in cages are refreshed 
with Chickweed when they loath their meat." 

The Chickweed is termed Alsine — quia luco^, vel ahous 
amat — because it loves to grow in shady places This 
small herb abounds with the earthy salts of potash, 
which are admirable against scurvy when thus found in 
nature's laboratory, and a continued deprivation from 
which always proves disastrous to mankind. "The 
water of Chickweed," says an old writer, "is given to 
children for their fits, and its juice is used for their 
gripes." When boiled, the plant may be eaten instead 
of Spinach. Its fresh juice if rubbed on warts, first 
pared to the quick, will presently cause them to fall 

Fresh Chickweed juice, as proved medicinally in 
1893, produced sharp rheumatic pains and stitches in 
the head and eyes, with a general feeling of being 
bruised ; also pressure about the liver and soreness 
there, with sensations of burning, and of bilious indi- 
gestion. Subsequently, the herb, when given in quite 
small doses of tincture, or fresh juice, or infusion, has 
been found by its affinity to remove the train of symp- 
toms just described, and to act most reliably in curing 
obstinate rheumatism allied therewith. Furthermore, a 
poultice prejDared from the fresh green juicy leaves, is 
emollient and cooling, whilst an ointment made from 
them with hog's lard, is manifestly healing. 

When rain is impending, the flowers remain closed ; 



and the plant teaches an exemplary matrimonial lesson, 
seeing that at night its leaves approach one another in 
loving pairs, and sleep with the tender buds protected 
between them. Culpeper says : " Chickweed is a fine, 
soft, pleasing herb, under the dominion of the moon, 
and good for many things." Parkinson orders thus : 
" To make a salve fit to heal sore legs, boil a handful of 
Chickweed with a handful of red rose leaves in a pint of 
the oil of trotters or sheep's feet, and anoint the grieved 
places therewith against a fire each evening and morning ; 
then bind some of the herb, if ye will, to the sore, and 
so shall ye find help, if God will." 


This well-known plant, a native of Southern Europe, 
and belonging to the Ranunculus order, is grown com- 
monly in our gardens for the sake of its showy white 
flowers, conspicuous in winter, from December to 
February. The root has been famous since time imme- 
morial as a remedy for insanity. From its abundant 
growth in the Grecian island of Anticyra arose the 
proverb: Naviget Anticymm — "Take a voyage to Anti- 
cyra," as applied by way of advice to a man who has 
lost his reason. 

When fresh the root is very acrid, and will blister the 
skin. If dried and given as powder it will cause 
vomiting and purging, also provoking sneezing when 
smelt, and inducing the monthly flow of a woman. This 
root contains a chemical glucoside — "helleborin," which, 
if given in full doses, stimulates the kidneys to such 
an excess that their function becomes temporarily 
paralyzed. It therefore happens that a medicinal 
tincture (H.) made from the fresh root collected at 
Christmas, just before the plant would flower, when 



taken in small doses, will promptly relieve dropsy, 
especially a sudden dropsical swelling of the skin, with 
passive venous congestion of the kidneys, as in scrofulous 

A former method of administering the root was by 
sticking a particularly sweet apple full of its fibres, and 
roasting this under hot embers ; then the fibres were 
withdrawn, and the apple was eaten by the patient. 

Taken by mischance in any quantity the root is highly 
poisonous : one ounce of a watery decoction has caused 
death in eight hours, with vomiting, giddiness, insensi- 
bility, and palsy. Passive dropsy in children after 
scarlet fever may be effectually cured by small doses of 
the tincture, third decimal strength. 

The name Hellebore, as applied to the plant, comes 
from the Greek Elein — to injure, and Bora — lodder. It 
is also known as Afelampodium, being thus designated 
because Melampus, a physician in the Peloponnesus 
{B.C. 1530) watched the effect on his goats when they 
had eaten the leaves, and cured therewith the insane 
daughters of Prcetus, King of Argos. 

It was famous among the Egyptian and Greek doctors 
of old as the most effectual remedy for the diseases of 
mania, epilepsy, apoplexy, dropsy, and gout. The 
tincture is very useful in mental stupor, with functional 
impairment of the hearing and sight ; likewise for 
strumous water on the brain. 

The original reputation of this herb was acquired 
because of its purgative properties, which enabled it to 
carry off black bile which was causing insanity. 

N"o tannin is contained in the root. A few drops of 
the juice obtained therefrom, if dropped warm into the 
ear each night and morning, will cure singing and 
noises in the ears. A proper dose of the powdered root 


is from five to ten grains. Snuff made with this powder 
has cured night blindness, as among the PVench 
prisoners at Norman Cross in 1806. The Gauls used to 
rub the points of their hunting spears with Hellebore, 
believing that the game they killed was thus rendered 
more tender. Hahnemann said that at least one thiid 
of the cases of insanity occurring in lunatic asylums 
may be cured hy this and the white Hellebore (an allied 
plant) in such small doses as of the tincture twelfth 
dilution, given in the patient's drink. 

A bastard Hellebore, which is fa'tidus, or, "stinking," 
and is known to rustics as Bearsfoot, because of its 
digitate leaves, grows frequently near houses in this 
country, though a doubtful native. The sei)als of its 
flowers are purple, and the leaves are evergreen ; the 
petals are green and leaf -like, whilst the nectaries are 
large and tubular, often containing small Hies. The 
nectar is reputed to be poisonous. Again, this plant 
bears the names Pegroots, Oxheel, Oxheal, and Setter- 
wort, because used for " settering " cattle. A piece of 
the root is inserted as a seton (so-called from sda — a 
hank of silk) into the dewlap, and this is termed 
"pegging," or, "settering," for the benefit of diseased 
lungs. "The root," says Gerard, consists of many small 
black strings, involved or wrapped one within another 
very intricately." The smell of the fresh plant is 
extremely fetid, and, when taken, it will purge, or 
provoke vomiting. The leaves are very useful for 
expelling worms. Dr. Woodville says their juice made 
into a syrup, with coarse sugar, is almost the only 
vermifuge he had used against round worms for three 
years past. " If these leaves be dried in an oven after 
the bread is drawne out, and the powder thereof ])c 
taken in a figge, or raisin, or strewed upon a piece of 



bread spread with honey, and eaten, it killeth worms in 
children exceedingly." A decoction made with one 
drachm of the green leaves, or about fifteen grains of the 
dried leaves in powder, is the usual dose for a child 
between four and six years of age ; but a larger dose 
will provoke sickness, or diarrhoea. The medicine 
should be repeated on two or three consecutive morn- 
ings ; and it will be found that the second dose acts 
more powerfully than the first, " never failing to expel 
round worms by stool, if there be any lodged in the 
alimentary tube." 


In this country we possess about twenty species of the 
trefoil, or Clover, which is a plant so well known in its 
general features by its abundance in every field and on 
every grass plot, as not to need any detailed description. 
The special variety endowed with medicinal and cura- 
tive virtues, is the Meadow Clover {Trifolium pratense), 
or red clover, called by some, Cocksheads, and familiar 
to children as Suckles, or Honey-suckles, l^ecause of the 
abundant nectar in the long tubes of its corollse. Other 
names for it are Bee-bread, and Smere. An extract of 
this red clover is now confidently said to have the 
power of healing scrofulous sores, and of curing cancer. 
The New York Tribune of September, 1884, related a 
case of indisputable cancer of the breast of six years' 
standing, with an open fetid sore, which had penetrated 
the chest- wall between the ribs, and which was radically 
healed by a prolonged internal use of the extract of red 
clover. Four years afterwards, in September, 1888, 
"the breast was found to be restored to its normal 
condition, all but a small place the size of half a dollar, 
which will in every probability become absorbed like 



the rest, so that the patient is considered by her 
physicians to be absolutely cured." 

The likelihood is that whatever virtue the red clover 
can boast for counteracting a scrofulous disposition, and 
as antidotal to cancer, resides in its highly-elaborated 
lime, silica, and other earthy salts. Moreover, this 
experience is not new. Sir Spencer AVells, twenty 
years ago, recorded some cases of confirmed cancer 
cured by taking powdered and triturated oyster shells ; 
whilst egg shells similarly reduced to a fine dust 
have proved equally efficacious. It is remarkable that 
if the moorlands in the North of England, and in some 
parts of Ireland, are turned up for the first time, and 
strewed with lime, white clover springs up there in 

Again, a syrup is made from the flowers of the red 
clover, which has a trustworthy reputation for curing 
whooping-cough, and of which a teaspoonful may be 
taken three or four times in the day. Also stress is 
laid on the healing of skin eruptions in children, by a 
decoction of the purple and white meadow trefoils. 

The word clover is a corruption of the Latin clava 
a club ; and the " clubs " on our playing cards are 
representations of clover leaves ; whilst in France the 
same black suit is called trefle. 

A conventional trefoil is figured on our coins, both 
Irish and English, this plant being the National Badge 
of Ireland. Its charm has been ever supposed there as 
an unfailing protection against evil influences, as is 
attested by the spray in the workman's cap, and in the 
bosom of the cotter's wife. 

The clover trefoil is in some measure a sensitive 
plant; "its leaves," said Pliny, "do start up as if afraid 
of an assault when tempestuous weather is at hand." 


The phrase, living in clover," alludes to cattle being 
put to feed in rich pasturage. 

A sworn foe to the purple clover cultivated by 
farmers, is the Dodder {Cuscuta trifolii), a destructi\e 
vegetable parasite which strangles the plants in a crafty 
fashion, and which goes by the name of " hellweed," or 
" devil's guts." It lies in ambush like a pigmy field 
octopus, with deadly suckers for draining the sap of its 
victims. These it mats together in its wiry, sinuous 
coils, and chokes relentlessly by the acre. Nevertheless, 
the petty garotter — like a toad, "ugly and venomous, 
wears yet a precious jewel in its head." " If boiled," 
says Hill, " with a little ginger, the dodder in decoction 
works briskly as a purge. Also, the thievish herb, 
when bruised and applied externally to scrofulous 
tumours, is an excellent remedy." 

The word "dodder" signifies the plural of "dodd," a 
bunch of threads. The parasite is sometimes called 
"Red tangle" and " Lady's laces." 

Its botanical name Ciimita comes from the Greek 
Kassno — to sew together. If the piece of land infested 
with it is closely mown (and the cut material carried 
away unshaken), being next covered with deal saw-dust, 
on which a ten per cent, solution of sulphate of iro/i is 
freely poured, then by combining with the tannin 
contained in the stems of the Dodder, this will serve to 
kill the parasite without doing any injury to the clover 
or lucerne. Although a parasite the plant springs every 
year from seed. It is a remedy for swooning or fainting 

The Sweet Clover (or yellow Melilot), when prepared 
as a tincture (H.), with spirit of wine, and given as a 
medicine in material doses, causes, in sensitive persons, 
a severe headache, sometimes with a determination of 



blood to the head, and bleeding from the nose. When 
administered, on the principle of curative affinity, in 
much smaller doses, it is singularly beneficial against 
nervous headaches, with oppression of the brain, acting 
helpfully within five minutes. Dr. Hughes (Brighton) 
writes: "I value this medicine much in nervous headaches, 
and I always carry it in my pocket-case— as the mother 
tincture — which I generally administer by olfactiov.'' 
For epilepsy, it is said in the United States of America 
to be " the one grand master-remedy," by giving a 
drop of the tincture every five minutes during the 
attack, and five drops five times a day in water, for 
some weeks afterwards. 

The Melilot (from mel, honey, and lotas, because 
much liked by bees) is known as Plaster Clover fi"om 
its use since Galen's time in plasters for dispersing 
tumours. Continental physicians still employ the same 
made of melilot, wax, resin, and olive oil. The plant 
contains, " Coumarin " in common with the Sweet 
Woodruff, and the Tonquin Bean. Other names for 
it are " Harts' Clover," because deer delight to feed 
on it, and " King's Clover," or " Corona Eegis," 
because " the yellow floures doe crown the top of the 
stalkes as with a chaplet of gold." It is an herbaceous 
plant common in waste places, and having light green 
leaves ; when dried it smells like Woodruff, or new 


Though not generally thought worth more than a 
passing notice, or to possess any claims of a medicinal 
sort, yet the Club Moss, which is of common growth in 
Great Britain on heaths and hilly pastures, exerts by 
its spores very remarkable curative eff'ects, and there- 




fore it should be favourably regarded as a Herbal 
Simple. It is exclusively due to homoeopathic provings 
and practice, that the Djcopodimn davatum (Club Moss) 
takes an important position amongst the most curative 
vegetable remedies of the present day. 
• The word Ji/copodiaiii means " wolf's claw," because 
of the claw-like ends to the trailing stems of this moss ; 
and the word davatiun signifies that its inflorescence 
resembles a club. The spores of Club Moss constitute 
a fine pale-yellow, dusty powder which is unctuous, 
tasteless, inodorous, and only medicinal when pounded 
in an agate mortar until the individual spores, or nuts, 
are fractured. 

By being thus triturated, the nuts give out their con- 
tents, which are shown to be oil globules, '.therein the 
curative virtues of the moss reside. Sugar of milk is 
then rubbed up for two hours or more with the broken 
spores, so as to compose a medicinal poAvder, which is 
afterwards to be further diluted ; or a tincture is made 
from the fractured spores, with spirit of ether, which 
will develop their specific medicinal properties. The 
Club Moss, thus prepared, has been experimentally 
taken by provers in varying material doses ; and is 
found through its toxical affinities in this way to be 
remarkably useful for chronic mucous indigestion and 
mal-nutrition, attended with sallow complexion, slow, 
difficult digestion, flatulence, waterbrash, heartburn, 
decay of bodily strength, and mental depression. It is 
said that whenever a fan-like movement of the wings of 
the nostrils can be observed during the breathing, the 
whole group of symptoms thus detailed is spedalltj 
curable by Club Moss. 

As a dose of the triturated powder, reduced to a 
weaker dilution, ten grains may be taken twice a day 



mixed with a dessertspoonful of water ; or of the tinc- 
ture largely reduced in strength, ten drops twice a day 
in like manner. Chemically, the oil globules extracted 
from the spores contain "alumina" and "phosphoric 
acid." The diluted powder has proved practically bene- 
ficial for reducing the swelling and for diminishing the 
pulsation of aneurism when affecting a main blood- 
vessel of the heart. 

In Cornwall the Club Moss is considered good 
against most diseases of the eyes, provided it be 
gathered on the third day of the moon when first seen ; 
being shown the knife whilst the gatherer repeats these 
words : — 

" As Christ healed the issue of blood, 
Do thou cut what thou cuttest for good." 

" Then at sundown the Club Moss should be cut by 
the operator whilst kneeling, and with carefully washed 
hands. It is to be tenderly wrapped in a fair white 
cloth, and afterwards boiled in water procured from the 
spring nearest the spot where it grew," and the liquor 
is to be applied as a fomentation ; or the Club Moss 
may be " made into an ointment with butter from the 
milk of a new cow." Such superstitious customs had 
without doubt a Druidic origin, and they identify the 
Club Moss with the Selago, or golden herb, " Cloth of 
Gold " of the Druids. This was reputed to confer the 
power of understanding the language of birds and 
beasts, and was intimately connected with some of their 
mysterious rites ; though by others it is thought to 
have been a sort of Hedge Hyssop (Grafiola). 

The Common Lycopodium bears in some districts the 
name of "Robin Hood's hatband." Its unmoistenable 
powder from the spores is a capital absorbing applica- 
tion to weeping, raw surfaces. At the shops, this 



powder of the Club Moss spores is sold as " witch 
meal," or " vegetable sulphur." For trade purposes it 
is obtained from the ears of a Wolfsfoot Moss, the 
Lycopodium clavatum, which grows in the forests of 
Russia and Finland. The powder is yellow of colour, 
dust-like and smooth to the touch. Half a drachm of 
it given during July in any proper vehicle has been 
esteemed " a noble remedy to cure stone in the 
bladder." Being mixed with black pepper, it was 
recognized by the College of Physicians in 1721 as a 
medicine of singular value for preventing and curing 
hydrophobia. Dr. Mead, who had repeated experience 
of its worth, declared that he never knew it to fail 
when combined with cold bathing. 

Club Moss powder ignites with a flicker, and is used 
for stage lightning. It is the Blitzmthl, or lightning- 
meal of the Germans, who give it in doses of from fifteen 
to twenty grains for the cure of epilepsy in children. 

When the " Mortal Struggle " was produced (see 
Nicholas Nicklehy) by Mr. Vincent Crummies at 
Portsmouth, with the aid of Miss Snevelicci, and the 
Infant Phenomenon, lurid lightning was much in 
request to astonish the natives; and this was sufficiently 
well simulated by igniting, with a sudden flash and a 
hiss, highly inflammable spores of the Club Moss 
projected against burning tow within a hollow cone, 
producing weird scenic effects. 


The Coltsfoot, which grows abundantly throughout 
England in places of moist, heavy soil, especially along 
the sides of our raised railway banks, has been justly 
termed " nature's best berb for the lungs, and her most 
eminent thoracic." Its seeds are supposed to have lain 



dormant from primitive times, where our railway cut- 
tings now upturn them and set them growing anew ; 
and the rotting foliage of the primeval herb by retaining 
its juices, is thought to have promoted the development 
and growth of our common earthworm. 

The botanical name of Coltsfoot is Tussilago farfara, 
signifying tiissis ago, " I drive away a cold " ; and farfar, 
the white poplar tree, which has a similar leaf. It is 
one of the Composite order, and the older authors 
named this plant, Filius ante patrem — " the son l)efoi e 
the father," because the flowers appear and wither before 
the leaves are produced. These flowers, at the very 
beginning of Spring, stud the banks with gay, golden, 
leafless blossoms, each growing on a stiff' scaly stalk, 
and resembling a dandelion in miniature. The leaves, 
which follow later on, are made often into cigars, or are 
smoked as British herbal tobacco, being mixed for this 
purpose with the dried leaves and flowers of the eye- 
bright, buckbean, betony, thyme, and lavender, to which 
some persons add rose leaves, and chamomile flowers. 
All these are rubbed together by the hands into a 
coarse powder. Coltsfoot forming quite one-half of 
the same ; and this powder may be very beneficially 
smoked for asthma, or for spasmodic bronchial cough. 
Linnoeus said, ''Et adhuc hodie plebs in Suecid instar tabaci 
contra tussim fugW — "Even to-day the Swiss people 
cure their coughs with Coltsfoot employed like tobacco." 
When the flowers are fully blown and fall off", the seeds 
with their " clock" form a beautiful head of white flossy 
silk, and if this flies away when there is no wind it is 
said to be a sure sign of coming rain. The Goldfinch 
often lines her nest with the soft pappus of the Colts- 
foot. In Paris the Coltsfoot flower is painted on the 
doorposts of an apothecary's house. 



From earliest times, the plant has been found helpful 
in maladies of the chest. Hippocrates advised it with 
honey for "ulcerations of the lungs." Dioscorides, 
Pliny, and Galen, severally commended the use of its 
Fmoke, conducted into the mouth through a funnel or 
reed, for giving ease to cough and difficult breathing ; 
they named it hreecJiion, from hreex, a cough. 

In taste, the leaves are harsh, bitter, and mucilaginous. 
They appear late in March, being green above, with an 
under-surface which is white, and cottony. Sussex 
peasants esteem the white down of the leaves as a most 
valuable medicine. 

All parts of the plant contain chemically tannin, with 
a special bitter principle, and free mucilage ; so that the 
herb is to be considered emollient, demulcent, and tonic. 
Dr. CuUen employed a decoction of the leaves with 
much benefit in scrofula, where the use of sea water 
had failed. And Dr. Fuller tells about a girl cured of 
twelve scrofulous sores, by drinking daily, for four 
months, as much as she could of Coltsfoot tea, made 
so strong from the leaves as to be sweet and glutinous. 
A modern decoction is prepared from the herb with 
boiling water poured on the leaves, and with liquorice 
root and honey added. 

But, ''hark! I hear the pancake bell," said Poor 
Richard in his almanack, 1684 ; alluding to pancakes 
then made with Coltsfoot, like tansies, and fried with 
saged butter. 

A century later it was still the fashion to treat 
consumptive young women with quaint remedies. Mrs. 
Delaney writes in 1758, "Does Mary cough in the 
night 1 two or three snails boiled in her barley water 
may be of great service to her." 

Again, the confectioner provides Coltsfoot rock, con- 



cocted in fluted sticks of a brown colour, as a sweet- 
meat, and flavoured with some essential oil — as aniseed^ 
or dill — these sticks being well beloved by most school- 
boys. The dried leaves, when soaked out in warm 
water, will serve as an excellent emollient poultice. 

A certain preparation, called Essence of Coltsfoot," 
found great favour with our grandsires for treating their 
colds. This consisted of Balsam of Tolu and Friar's 
Balsam in equal parts, together with double the quantity 
of Spirit of Wine. It did not really contain a trace of 
Coltsfoot, and the nostrum was provocative of inflam- 
mation, because of the spirit in excess. Dr. Paris said : 
" And this, forsooth, is a pectoral for coughs ! If a 
patient with a catarrh should recover whilst using such 
a remedy, I should certainly designate it a lucky escape, 
rather than a skilful cure." Gerard wrote about Colts- 
foot : " The fume of the dried leaves, burned upon coles, 
efl'ectually helpeth those that fetch their winde thicke, 
and breaketh without peril the impostumes of the 
brest " ; also "the green leaves do heal the hot inflam- 
mation called Saint Anthony's fire." 

The names of the herb — Coltsfoot, and Horsehoof — 
are derived from the shape of the leaf. It is likewise 
known as Asses' foot, and Cough wort ; also as Foal's 
foot, and Bull's foot. Hoofs, and (in Yorkshire) Cleats. 

To make an infusion or decoction of the plant for a 
confirmed cough, or for chronic bronchitis, pour a pnit 
of boiling water on an ounce of the dried leaves and 
flowers, and take half a teacupful of • it when cold three 
or four times in the day. The silky down of the seed- 
heads is used in the Highlands for stuffing pillows, and 
the presence of coal is said to be indicated by an 
abundant growth of the herb. 

Another species, the Butter bur {Tussilago petasites), 



is named from petasus, an umbrella, or a broad covering 
for the head. It produces the largest leaves of any 
plant in Gi eat Britain, which sometimes measure three 
feet in breadth. This plant was thought to be of great 
use in the time of the plague, and thus got the names of 
Pestilent wort, Plague flower and Bog Rhubarb. Both 
it, and the Coltsfoot, are specific remedies (H.) for 
severe and obstinate neuralgia in the small of the back, 
and the loins, a medicinal tincture being prepared from 
each herb, 


The Comfrey of our river banks, and moist watery 
places, is the Consound, or Knit-back, or Bone-set, and 
Blackwort of country folk ; and the old Si/wohytum of 
Dioscorides. It has derived these names from the 
consolidating and vulnerary qualities attributed to the 
plant, from confirmo, to strengthen together, or the 
French, comfrie. This herb is of the Borage tribe, and 
is conspicuous by its height of from one to two feet, 
its large rough leaves, which provoke itching when 
handled, and its drooping white or purple flowers grow- 
ing on short stalks. Chemically, the most important 
part of the plant is its "mucilage." This contains 
tannin, asparagin, sugar, and starch granules. The 
roots are sweet, sticky, and without any odour. 
" Quia tanta imestantia ed" says Pliny, si carnes dune 
coquuntur conglutinet addita ; unde nomen ! " — " and the 
roots be so glutinative that they will solder or gleAv 
together meat that is chopt in pieces, seething in a pot, 
and make it into one lump : the same bruysed, and 
lay'd in the manner of a plaister, doth heale all fresh 
and green wounds." These roots are very brittle, and 
the least bit of them will start growing afresh. 



The AA^hole plant, beaten to a cataplasm, and applied 
hot as a poultice, has always been deemed excellent for 
soothing pain in any tender, inflamed or suppurating 
part. It was formerly applied to raw indolent ulcers 
as a glutinous astringent, and most useful vulnerary. 
Pauli recommended it for broken bones, and externally 
for wounds of the nerves, tendons, and arteries. More 
recently surgeons have declared that the powdered root 
(which, when broken, is white within, and full of a 
slimy juice), if dissolved in water to a mucilage, is far 
from contemptible for bleedings, fractures, and luxa- 
tions, whilst it hastens the callus of bones under repair. 
Its strong decoction has been found very useful in 
Germany for tanning leather. The leaves were formerly 
employed for giving a flavour to cakes and panada. 

A modern medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the 
root-stock with spirit of wine ; and ten drops of this 
should be taken three or four times a day with a table- 
spoonful of cold water. French nurses treat cracked 
nipples by applying a hollow section of the fresh root 
over the sore caruncle ; and a decoction of the root 
made by boiling from two to four drachms in a pint 
of water, is given for bleedings from the lungs or 

The name Consoimd, owned by the Common Comfrey, 
was given likewise to the daisy and the bugle, in the 
middle ages. "It joyeth," says Gerard, "in watery 
ditches, in fat and fruitful meadows." A solve con- 
cocted from the fresh herb will certainly tend to 
promote the healing of bruised and broken parts, 
suggesting as an appropriate motto for the salve box : 
" Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is to dAvell 
together in unity ! It is like the precious ointment 
which ran down Aaron's beard." Some foreknowledge 


of the Comfrey perhaps inspired the Prophet Isaiah 
to predict that after a time "the heart should rejoice 
and the bones flourish like a herb." The Poet Laureate 
tells of 

"This, the Consound, 
Whereby the lungs are eased of their grief." 

About a century ago, the Prickly Comfrey — a variety 
of our Consound — was naturalised in this country from 
the Caucasus, and has since proved itself amazingly 
productive to farmers, as, when cultivated, it will grow 
six crops in the year ; and the plant is both preventive 
and curative of foot and mouth disease in cattle. Ic 
bears flowers of a rich blue colour. 

From our Common Comfrey a sort of glue is got in 
Angora, which is used for si)inning the famous fleeces of 
that country. Mr. Cockayne relates that the locksman 
at Teddington informed him how the bone of his little 
finger being broken, was grinding and grunching so 
sadly for two months, that sometimes he felt quite 
wrong in his head. One day he saw a doctor go by, 
and told him about the distress. The doctor said : 
" You see that Comfrey growing there 1 Take a piece 
of its root, and champ it, and put it about your finger, 
and wrap it up." The man did so, and in four days his 
finger was well. 


Coriander comfits, sold by the confectioner as admir- 
ably warming to the stomach, and corrective of 
flatulence, consist of small aromatic seeds coated with 
white sugar. These are produced by the Coriander, 
an umbelliferous herb cultivated in England from early 
times for medicinal and culinary uses, though intro- 
duced at first from the Mediterranean. It has now 


become wild as an escape, growing freely in our fields 
and waste places. Farmers produce it, especially about 
Essex, under the name of Col, the crops being mown 
down when ripe, and the fruits being then thrashed 
out to procure the seeds. The generic name has been 
derived from Jwros, a bug; alluding to the stinking 
odour of the bruised leaves, though these, when dried, 
are fragrant, and pleasant of smell. In some countries, 
as Egypt and Peru, they are taken in soups. The seeds 
are cordial, but become narcotic if used too freely. 
When distilled with water they yield a yellow essential 
oil of a very aromatic and strong odour. 

Coriander water was formerly much esteemed as a 
carminative for windy colic. Being so aromatic and 
comfortabl}^ stimulating, the fruit is commended for 
aiding the digestion of savoury pastry, and to correct 
the griping tendencies of such medicines as senna and 
rhubarb. It contains malic acid, tannin, the special 
volatile oil of the herb, and some fatty matter. 

Distillers of gin make use of this fruit, and veterinary 
surgeons employ it as a drug for cattle and horses. 
Alston says, "The green herb — seeds and all — stinks 
intolerably of bugs " ; and Hoffman admonishes, " Si 
largius sumptura fuerit semen non sine periculo e sua sede 
et statu demovet, et qui sumpsere varia didu pudenda 
blaterant." The fruits are blended with curry powder, 
and are chosen to flavour several liquors. By the 
Chinese a power of conferring immortality is thought to 
be possessed by the seeds. From a passage in the Book 
of Numbers where manna is likened to Coriander seed, 
it would seem that this seed was famiiiai' to the 
Israelites and used by them for domestic purposes. 
Robert Turner says when taken in wine it stimulates 
the animal passions. 



Our English pastures and meadows, especially where 
the soil is of blue lias clay, become brilliantly gay, 

with gaudy cowslips drest," quite early in the spring. 
But it is a mistake to suppose that these flowers are 
a favourite food with cows, who, in fact, never eat them 
if they can help it. The name Cowslip is really derived, 
says Dr. Prior, from the Flemish words, kom loppe, 
meaning "hose flap," a humble part ot woollen nether 
garments. But Skeat thinks it arose from the fact that 
the plant was supposed to spring up where a patch of 
cow dung had fallen. 

Originally, the Mullein — which has large, oval, woolly 
leaves — an I the Cowslip were included under one 
common Latin name, Ferbascum ; for which reason the 
attributes of the Mullein still remain accredited by mis- 
take to the second plant. Former medical writers called 
the Cowslip herba j^ralysis, or, " palsy wort," because of 
its supposed eflicacy in relieving paralysis. The whole 
plant is known to be gently narcotic and somniferous. 
Pope praised the herb and its flowers on account of 
their sedative qualities : — 

" For want of rest, 
Lettuce and Cowslip wine —Prohatum est.'^ 

Whilst Coleridge makes his Christabel declare with 
reference to the fragrant brew concocted from its 
petals, with lemons and sugar : — 

"It is a wine of virtuous powers, 
My mother made it of wild flowers." 

Physicians for the last two centuries have used the 
powdered roots of the Cowslip (and the Primrose) for 
wakefulness, hysterical attacks, and muscular rheu- 
matism : and the cowslip root was named of old both 



radix pamlyseos, and radix arthritica. This root, and the 
flowers, have an odour of anise, which is due to their 
containing some volatile oil identical with mannite. 
Their more acrid principle is " saponiii." Hill tells us 
that when boiled in ale, the roots are taken by country 
persons for giddiness, with no little success. " They be 
likewise in great request among those that use to hunt 
after goats and roebucks on high mountains, for the 
strengthening of the head when they pass by fearful 
precipices and steep places, in following their game, so 
that giddiness and swimming of the brain may not seize 
upon them." The dose of the dried and powdered 
flowers is from fifteen to twenty grains. A syrup of a 
fine yellow colour may also be made from the petals, 
which answers the same purposes. Three pounds of 
the fresh blossoms should be infused in five pints of 
boiling water, and then simmered down to a proper 
consistence with sugar. 

Herbals of the Elizabethan date, say that an ointment 
made from cowslip flowers "taketh away the spots and 
wrinkles of the skin, and doth add beauty exceedingly, 
as divers ladies, gentlewomen, and she citizens — whether 
wives or widows — know well enough." 

The tiny people were then supposed to be fond of 
nestling in the drooping bells of Cowslips, and hence 
the flowers were called fairy cups ; and, in accordance 
with the doctrine of signatures, they were thought 
effective for removing freckles from the face. 

" In their gold coats spots you see, 
These be rubies : fairy favours. 
In these freckles live their savours." 

The cluster of blossoms on a single stalk sometimes 
bears the name of "lady's keys" or "St. Peter's wort," 
either because it resembles a bunch of keys as St. 



Peter's badge, or because as primula veris it unlocks the 
treasures of spring. 

Cowslip flowers are frequently done up by playful 
children into balls, which they call tisty tosty, or 
simply a tosty. For this purpose the umbels of blos- 
soms fully blown are strung closely together, and tied 
into a firm ball. 

The leaves were at one time eaten in salad, and 
mixed with other herbs to stuff meat, whilst the flowers 
were made into a delicate conserve. 

Yorkshire people call this plant the Cowstripling ; 
and in Devonshire, where it is scarcely to be found, 
because of the red marl, it has come about that the 
foxglove goes by the name of Cowslip. Again, in some 
provincial districts, the Cowslip is knowii as Petty 
Mullein, and in others as Paigle (Palsy wort). The old 
English proverb, " As blake as a paigle," means, " As 
yellow as a cowslip." 

One word may be said here in medicinal favour of 
the poor cow, whose association with the flower now 
under discussion has been so unceremoniously dis- 
proved. The breath and smell of this sweet-odoured 
animal are thought in Flintshire to be good against 
consumption. Henderson tells of a blacksmith's appren- 
tice who was restored to health when far advanced in a 
decline, by taking the milk of cows fed in a kirkyard. 
In the south of Hampshire, a useful plaster of fresh 
cow-dung is applied to open wounds. And even in its 
evolutionary development, the homely animal reads us 
a lesson ; for Dat Deiis iriimiti cornua curta bovi, says the 
Latin proverb — Savage cattle have only short horns." 
So was it in "the House that Jack built," where the 
fretful creature that tossed the dog had but one horn, 
and this grew crumpled. 




The Cress of the herbalist is a noun of multitude : it 
comprises several sorts, differing in kind but possessing 
the common properties of wholesomeness and pungency. 
Here " order in variety we see " ; and here, " though all 
things differ, all agree."' The name is thought by some 
to be derived from the Latin verb crescere^ to grow fast. 

Each kind of Cress belongs to the Cruciferous genus 
of plants ; Avhence comes, perhaps, the common name 
The several varieties of Cress are stimulating and anti- 
scorbutic, whilst each contains a particular essential 
principle, of acrid flavour, and of sharp biting qualities. 
The whole tribe is termed lejndium, or " siliquose," scaly, 
with reference to the shape of the seed-pouches. It in- 
cludes "Land Cress (formerly dedicated to St. Barbara); 
Broad-leaved Cress (or the Poor-man's pepper) ; Penny 
Cress (thkqmis) ; Garden, or Town Cress ; and the well 
known edible Water Cress." Formerly the Greeks 
attached much value to the whole order of Cresses, 
which they thought very beneficial to the brain. A 
favourite maxim with them was, " Eat Cresses, and get 

In England these plants have long been cultivated as 
a source of profit; whence arose the saying that a 
graceless fellow is not worth a "kurse" or cress — in 
German, kers. Thus Chaucer speaks about a character in 
the Canterbury Tales, " Of paramours ne fraught he not 
a kers." But some writers have referred this saying 
rather to the wild cherry or kerse, making it of the 
same significance as our common phrase, " Not worth a 


As Curative Herbal Simples we need only consider 
the Garden or Town Cress, and the Water Cress : whilst 
regarding the other varieties rather as condiments, and 



salad herbs to be taken by way of pleasant wholesome 
appetisers at table. These aromatic herbs were em- 
ployed to season the homely dishes of our forefathers, 
before commerce had brought the spices of the East at 
a cheap rate to our doors ; and Cresses were held in 
common favour by peasants for such a purpose. The 
black, or white pepper of to-day, was then so costly that 
to promise a saint yearly a pound of it was considered 
a liberal bequest." And therefore the leaves of wild 
Cresses were eaten as a substitute for giving pungency 
to the food. Remarkable among these was the Dit- 
tander Sativas, a species found chiefly near the sea, 
with foliage so hot and acrid, that the plant then went 
by the name of " Poor-man's Pepper," or " Pepper Wort." 
Pliny said, "It is of the number of scorching and 
blistering Simples." "This herbe," says Lyte, "is 
fondly and unlearnedly called in English Dittany. It 
were better in following the Dutchmen to name it 

The Garden Cress, called Sativum (from satum, a 
pasture), is the sort commonly coupled with the herb 
Mustard in our familiar "Mustard and Cress." It has 
been grown in England since the middle of the six- 
teenth century, and its other name Town Cress refers to 
its cultivation in "tounes," or enclosures. It was also 
known as Passerage ; from passer, to drive away — rage, 
or madness, because of its reputed power to expel 
hydrophobia. " This Garden Cress," said Wm. Coles in 
his Paradise of Plants, 1650, "being green, and therefore 
more qualified by reason of its humidity, is eaten by 
country people, either alone with butter, or with lettice 
and purslane, in sallets, or otherwise." 

It contains sulphur, and a special ardent volatile 
medicinal oil. The small leaves combined with those of 




our white garden Mustard are excellent against rheu- 
matism and gout. Likewise it is a preventive of scurvy 
by reason of its mineral salts. In which salutary 
respects the twin plants, Mustard and Cress, are happily 
consorted, and well play a capital common part, like 
the " two single gentlemen rolled into one " of George 
Colman, the younger. 

The JFater Cress (Nasturtium officinale) is among 
cresses, to use an American simile, the " finest toad in 
the puddle." This is because of its superlative medi- 
cinal worth, and its great popularity at table. Early 
writers called the herb " Shamrock," and common folk 
now-a-days term it the " Stertion." Zenophon advised 
the Persians to feed their children on Water-cresses 
(kardamon esthie) that they might grow in stature and 
have active minds. 

The Latin name Nasturtium was given to the Water- 
cress because of its volatile pungency when bruised and 
smelt ; from nasus, a nose, and tortus, turned away, it 
being so to say, "a herb that wriths or twists the 
nose." For the same reason it is called Nasitorcl in 
France. When bruised its leaves aifect the eyes and 
nose almost like mustard. They have been usefully 
applied to the scald head and tetters of children. Li 
New Zealand the stems grow as thick as a man's wrist ^ 
an I nearly choke some of the rivers. Like an oyster, 
the Water-cress is in proper season only when there is 
an " r " in the month. 

According to an analysis made recently in the School 
of Pharmacy at Paris, the Water-cress contains a sulpho- 
nitrogenous oil, iodine, iron, phosphates, potash, certain 
other earthy salts, a bitter extract, and water. Its 
volatile oil which is rich in nitrogen and sulphur 
(problematical) is the sulpho-cyanide of allyl. Anyhow 




there is much sulphur possessed by the whole plant iu 
one form or another, together with a considerable 
quantity of mineral matter. Thus the popular plant is 
so constituted as to be particularly curative of scrofu- 
lous afiections, especially in the spring time, when the 
bodily humours are on the ferment. Dr. King Chambers 
writes {Diet m Health and Disease), " I feel sure 
that the infertility, pallor, fetid breath, and bad teeth 
which characterise some of our town populations are to 
a great extent due to their inability to get fresh anti- 
scorbutic vegetables as articles of diet : therefore I 
regard the Water-cress seller as one of the saviours of 
her country." Culpeper said pithily long ago : " They 
that will live in health may eat Water-cress if they 
please ; and if they won't, I cannot help it." 

The scrofula to which the Water-cress and its allied 
plants are antidotal, got its name from scrofa, " a 
burrowing pig," signifying the radical destruction of 
important glands in the body by this undermining con- 
stitutional disease. Possibly the quaint lines which 
nurses have long been given to repeat for the amusement 
of babies while fondling their infantine fingers bear a 
hidden meaning which pointedly imports the scrofulous 
taint. This nursery distich, as we remember, personates 
the fingers one by one as five little fabulous pigs : — the 
first small piggy doesn't feel well ; and the second one 
threatens the doctor to tell ; the third little pig has to 
linger at home ; and the fourth small porker of meat has 
none ; then the fifth little pig, with a querulous note, 
cries "weak, weak, weak" from its poor little throat. 
" CEgrotat multis doloribus porculus ille : 

Ille rogat fratri medicum proferre salutem : 

Debilis ille domi mansit vetitus abirs; 

Carnem digessit nunqnam miser porculus ille ; 

' Eheu ! ' ter repetens, ' eheu ! ' perporculus, 'eheu ! ' 

Vires exiguas higet plorante susurro. " 



Oil account of its medicinal constituents the herb has 
been deservedly extolled as a specific remedy for tuber- 
cular consumption of the lungs. Haller says : " We 
have seen patients in deep declines cured by living 
almost entirely on this plant ; " and it forms the chief 
ingredient of the Siroj) Anfiscorhutique given so success- 
fully by the French faculty in scrofula and other allied 
diseases. Its active principles are at their best when 
the plant is in flower ; and the amount of essential oil 
increases according to the quantity of sunlight which 
the leaves obtain, the proportion of iron being deter- 
mined according to the quality of the water, and the 
measure of phosphates by the supply of dressing 
aflbrded. The leaves remain green when grown in the 
shade, but become of a purple brown because of their 
iron when exposed to the sun. The expressed juice, 
which contains the peculiar taste and pungency of the 
herb, may be taken in doses of from one to two fluid 
ounces at each of the three principal meals, and it should 
always be had fresh. AVhen combined with the juice 
of Scurvy grass and of Seville oranges it makes the 
popular antiscorbutic medicine known as " Spring 

A Water-cress cataplasm applied cold in a single layer, 
and with a pinch of salt sprinkled thereupon makes 
a most useful poultice to heal foul scrofulous ulcers ; 
and will also help to resolve glandular swellings. 

Water-cresses squeezed and laid against warts were 
said by the Saxon leeches to work a certain cure on these 
excrescences. In France the Water-cress is dipped in oil 
and vinegar to be eaten at table with chicken or a steak. 
The Englishman takes it at his morning or evening meal, 
with bread and butter, or at dinner in a salad. It loses 
some of its pungent flavour and of its curative qualities 



when cultivated ; and therefore it is more appetising 
and useful when freshly gathered from natural streams. 
But these streams ought to be free from contamination 
by sewage matter, or any drainage which might convey 
the germs of fever, or other blood poison : for, as we 
are admonished, the Water-cress plant acts as a brush in 
impure running brooks to detain around its stalks and 
leaves any dirty disease-bringing flocculi. 

Some of our leading druggists now make for medicinal 
use a liquid extract of the Nasturtium officinale, and a 
spirituous juice (or succus) of the plant. These prepar- 
ations are of marked service in scorbutic cases, where 
weakness exists without wasting, and often with spongy 
gums, or some skin eruption. They are best when 
taken with lemon juice. 

The leaf of the unwholesome Water parsnep, or Fool's 
Cress, resembles that of the Water-cress, and grows near 
it not infrequently : but the leaves of the true Water- 
cress never embrace the stem of the plant as do the leaf 
stalks of its injurious imitators. Herrick the joyous 
poet of " dull Devonshire " dearly loved the Water-cress, 
and its kindred herbs. He piously and pleasantly made 
them the subject of a quaint grace before meat : — 

" Lord, I confess too when I dine 

The pulse is Thine : 
And all those other bits that be 

There placed by Thee : 
The wurts, the perslane, and the mess 

of Water-cress." 

The true Nasturtium {Tropteolum majiis), or greater 
Indian Cress grows and is cultivated in our flower 
gardens as a brilliant ornamental creeper. It was 
brought from Peru to France in 1684, and was called 
La grande Capucine, whilst the botanical title tropceolum, 


a trophy, was conferred because of its shield-like 
leaves, and its flowers resembling a golden helmet. An 
old English name for the same plant was Yellow 

Two years later it was introduced into England. This 
partakes of the sensible and useful qualities of the other 
cresses. The fresh plant and the dark yellow flowers 
have an odour like that of the Water-cress, and its 
bruised leaves emit a pungent smell. An infusion made 
with water will bring out the antiscorbutic virtues of 
the plant which are specially aromatic, and cordial. 
The flowers make a pretty and palatable addition to 
salads, and the nuts or capsules (which resemble the 
" cheeses " of Mallow) are esteemed as a pickle, or as a 
substitute for Capers. Invalids have often preferred 
this plant to the Scurvy grass as an antiscorbutic 
remedy. In the warm summer months the flowers 
have been observed about the time of sunset to give 
out sparks, as of an electrical kind, which were first 
noticed by a daughter of Linnoeus. 

The Water-cress is justly popular with persons who 
drink freely overnight, for its power of dissipating the 
fumes of the liquor, and of clearing away lethargic 
inaptitude for work in the morning : also for dispelling 
the tremors, and the foul taste induced by excessive 
tobacco smoking. 

Closely allied thereto is another cruciferous plant, 
the Scurvy grass (Cochleare), named also " Spoon- 
wort " from its leaves resembling in shape the 
bowl of an old-fashioned spoon. This is thought to 
be the famous Herha Bntannica of the ancients. Our 
great navigators have borne testimony to its never 
failing use in scurvy, and, though often growing many 
miles from the sea, yet the taste of the herb is always 


found to be salt. If eaten in its fresh state, as a salad, 
it is the most effectual of all the antiscorbutic plants, the 
leaves being admirable also to cure swollen and spongy 
gums. It grows along the muddy banks of the Avon, 
likewise in Wales, and is found in Cumberland, more 
commonly near the coast ; and again on the mountains 
of Scotland. It may be readily cultivated in the garden 
for medicinal use. 

The Cuckoo flower, or " Ladies' Smock " (Cardamine) 
from Cardia damao, " I strengthen the heart," is another 
wholesome Cress with the same sensible properties as 
the Water-cress, only in an inferior degree, while the 
strong pungency of its flavour prevents it from being 
equally popular. This plant bears also the names of 
" Lucy Locket," and " Smell Smocks." In Cornwall 
the flowering tops have been employed for the cure of 
epilepsy throughout several generations with singular 
success ; though the use of the leaves only for this pur- 
pose has caused disappointment. From one to three 
drams of these flowering tops are to be taken two 
or three times a day. 

By the Kev. Mr. Gregor (1793) and by his descen- 
dants this remedy was given for inveterate epilepsy 
with much benefit. Lady Holt, and her sister Lady 
Bracebridge, of Aston Hall, Warwickshire, were long 
famous for curing severe cases of the same infirmity by 
administering this herb. They gave the powdered 
heads of the flowers when in full bloom — ^twelve grains 
three times a day for many weeks together. 

Sir George Baker in 1767 read a paper before the 
London College of Physicians on the value of these 
flowers in convulsive disorders. He related five cures of 
St. Vitus' dance, spasmodic convulsions, and spasmodic 
asthma. Formerly the flowers were admitted into the 



London Pharmacopoeia. The herb was named Ladies' 
Smock in honour of the Virgin Mary, because it comes 
first into flower about Lady Day, being abundant with 
its delicate lilac blossoms in our moist meadows and 
marshes : 

"Lady Smocks all silver white 
Do paint the meadows with delight." 

This plant is also named " Milk Maids," " Bread and 
Milk," and " Mayflower." Gerard says " it flowers in 
April and May when the Cuckoo doth begin to sing her 
pleasant notes without stammering." One of his char- 
acters is made by the Poet Laureate to — 

" Steep for Danewulf leaves of Lady Smock, 
For they keep strong the heart." 

" And so much," as says William Cole, herbalist, in 
his Paradise of Plants, 1650, "for such Plants as cure 
the Scurvy." 


Cumin (Ctuninuin cyminum) is not half sufficiently 
known, or esteemed as a domestic condiment of medici- 
nal value, and culinary uses ; whilst withal of ready 
access as one of our commonest importations from Malta 
and Sicily for flavouring purposes, and veterinary 
preparations. It is an umbelliferous plant, and large 
quantities of its seeds are brought every year to England. 
The herb has been cultivated in the East from early 
days, being called " Cuminum " by the Greeks in classic 
times. The seeds possess a strong aromatic odour with 
a penetrating and bitter taste ; when distilled they yield 
a pungent powerful essential oil. The older herbalists 
esteemed them superior in comforting carminative qual- 



ities to those of the fennel or caraway. They are 
eminently useful to correct the flatulence of languid 
digestion, serving also to relieve dyspeptic headache, to 
allay colic of the bowels, and to promote the monthly 
flow of women. 

In Holland and Switzerland they are employed for 
flavouring cheese ; whilst in Germany they are added to 
bread as a condiment. 

Here the seeds are introduced in the making of 
curry powder, and are compounded to form a 
stimulating liniment ; likewise a warming plaster 
for quickening the sluggish congestions of indolent 
parts. The odorous volatile oil of the fruit con- 
tains the hydro-carbons " Cymol," and " Cuminol," 
which are redolent of lemon and caraway odours. A 
dose of the seeds is from fifteen to thirty grains. Cumin 
symbolised cupidity among the Greeks : wherefore 
Marcus Antoninus was so nick-named because of his 
avarice ; and misers were jocularly said to have eaten 

The herb was thought to specially confer the 
gift of retention, preventing the theft of any object 
which contained it, and holding the thief in custody 
within the invaded house ; also keeping fowls and 
pigeons from straying, and lovers from proving fickle. 
If a swain was going off as a soldier, or to work a long 
way from his home, his sweetheart Avould give him a 
loaf seasoned with Cumin, or a cup of wine in which 
some of the herb had been mixed. 

The ancients were acquainted with the power of 
Cumin to cause the human countenance to become 
pallid ; and as a medicine the herb is Avell cal- 
culated to cure such pallor of the face when 
occurring as an illness. Partridges and pigeons 



are extremely fond of the seeds : respecting the scrip- 
tural use of which in the payment of taxes we are 
reminded (Luke xi. v. 42) — " Ye pay tithe of mint, and 
anise, and cummin." It has been discovered by Grisar 
that Cumin oil exercises a special action which gives it 
importance as a medicine. This is to signally depress 
nervous reflex excitability when administered in full 
doses, as of from two to eight drops of the oil on sugar. 
And when the aim is to stimulate such reflex sensibility 
as impaired by disease, small diluted doses of the oil 
serve admirably to promote this purpose. 


The original Currants in times past were small 
grapes, grown in G-reece at Zante, near Corinth, and 
hence termed Corinthians ; then they became Corantes, 
and eventually Currants. But, as an old Roman proverb 
pertinently said : Non cuims Jiomini contingit adire 
Corinthum, " It was not for everyone to visit fashion- 
able Corinth." And therefore the name of Currants 
became transferred in the Epirus to certain small fruit 
of the Gooseberry order which closely resembled the 
grapes of Zante, but were identical rather with the 
Currants of our modern kitchen gardens, such as we 
now use for making puddings, pies, jams, and jellies. 
The bushes which produce this fruit grow wild in the 
Northern parts of Great Britain, and belong to the 
Saxifrage order of plants. The wild Red Currant bears 
small berries which are intensely acid. In modern 
Italy basketsful are gathered in the woods of the 
Apennines, and the Alps. 

Currants are not mentioned in former Greek or Roman 
literature, nor do they seem to have been cultivated by 
the Anglo-Saxons, or the Normans. Our several sorts 



of Currants afford a striking illustration of the mode 
which their parent bushes have learnt to adopt so as to 
attract by their highly coloured fruits the birds which 
shall disperse their seeds. These colours are not 
developed until the seed is ripe for germination ; 
because if birds devoured them prematurely the seed 
would fall inert. But simultaneously come the ripeness 
and the soft sweet pulp, and the rich colouring, so that 
the birds may be attracted to eat the fruit, and spread 
the seed in their droppings. Zeuxis, a famous Sicilian 
painter four hundred years before Christ, depicted 
currants and grapes with such fidelity that birds came 
and tried to peck them out from his canvas. 

White Currants are the most simple in kind ; and the 
Red are a step in advance. If equal parts of either 
fruit and of sugar are put over the fire, the liquid 
which separates spontaneously will make a very agree- 
able jelly because of the " pectin " with which it is 
chemically furnished. Nitric acid will convert this 
pectin into oxalic acid, or salts of sorrel. The juice 
of Eed Currants also contains malic and citric acids, 
which are cooling and wholesome. In the Northern 
counties this red Currant is called Wineberry, or 
Garnetberry, from its rich ruddy colour, and trans- 
parency. Its sweetened juice is a favourable drink in 
Paris, being preferred there to the syrup of orgeat 
(almonds). When made into a jelly with sugar the 
juice of red Currants is excellent in fevers, and acts as an 
anti-putrescent; as likeAvise if taken at table with venison, 
or hare, or other " high " meats. This fruit especially 
suits persons of sanguine temperament. Both red and 
white Currants are without doubt trustworthy remedies 
in most forms of obstinate visceral obstruction, and they 
correct impurities of the blood, being certainly antiseptic. 



The black Currant is found growing wild in England, 
for the most part by the edges of brooks, and in moist 
grounds, from mid-Scotland southwards. Throughout 
Sussex and Kent the shrub is called " Gazles " as cor- 
rupted from the French GroseiUes (Gooseberries). 
The fruit is cooling, laxative, and anodyne. Its thick- 
ened juice concocted over the fire, with, or without 
sugar, formed a " rob " of Old English times. The 
black Currant is often named by our peasantry " Squin- 
ancy," or " Quinsy berry," because a jelly prepared 
therefrom has been long employed for sore throat and 
quinsy. The leaf glands of its young leaves secrete 
from their under surface a fragrant odorous fluid. 
Therefore if newly gathered, and infused for a moment 
in very hot water and then dried, the leaves make an 
excellent substitute for tea ; also these fresh leaves when 
applied to a gouty part will assuage pain, and inflam- 
mation. They are used to impart the flavour of brandy 
to common spirit. Bergius called the leaf, mundans, 
pellens, et diuretica. Botanically the black Currant, 
liibes nigrum, belongs to the Saxifrage tribe, this generic 
term Ribes being applied to all fresh currants, as of 
Arabian origin, and signifying acidity. Grocers' currants 
come from the Morea, being small grapes dried in the 
sun, and put in heaps to cake together. Then they are 
dug out with a crow-bar, and trodden into casks for ex- 
portation. Our national plum pudding can no more l)e 
made without these currants than " little Tom Tucker 
who sang for his supper, could cut his bread without any 
knife, or could find himself married without any wife." 
Former cooks made an odd use of grocers' currants, 
according to King, a poet of the middle ages, who says :— 

" They buttered currants on fat veal bestowed, 
And rumps of beef with virgin honey strewed." 



On the kitchen Currant a riddling rhyme was long ago 
to be found in the Childrcn!s Booh of Conundrums : — 

" Higgledy-piggledy, here I lie 
Picked and plucked, and put in a pie ; 
My first is snapping, snarling, growling ; 
My second noisy, ramping, prowling." 

Eccles cakes are delicious Currant sandwiches which 
are very popular in Manchester. 

Black Currant jelly should not be made with too 
much sugar, else its medicinal virtues will be impaired. 
A teaspoonful of this jelly may be given three or four 
times in the day to a child with thrush. In Russia the 
leaves of the black Currant are employed to fabricate 
brandy made with a coarse spirit. These leaves and 
the fruit are often combined by our herbalists with the 
seeds of the wild carrot for stimulating the kidneys in 
passive dropsy. A medicinal wine is also brewed from 
the fruit together with honey. In this country we use 
a decoction of the leaf, or of the bark as a gargle. 
In Siberia black Currants grow as large as hazel nuts. 

Both the black and the red Currants afford a pleasant 
home-made wine. Ex eo optimum vinum fieri potest 
non deterius vinis vetiorihus viteis, wrote Haller in 
1750. White Currants, however, yield the best Avine, 
and this may be improved by keeping, even for twenty 
years. Dr. Thornton says : " I have used old wine of 
white Currants for calculous affections, and it has sur- 
passed all expectation." 

A delicate jelly is made from the red Currant at 
Bas-le-duc ; and a well-known nursery rhyme tells of the 
tempting qualities of " cherry pie, and currant wine." 
A rob of black Currant jam is taken in Scotland with 
whiskey toddy. Shakespeare in the JVintcr's Tale makes 
Antolycus, the shrewd " picker-up of unconsidered 



trifles" talk of buying for the sheep-shearing feast 
" three pounds of sugar, five pounds of currants, and 
rice." In France a cordial called Liqueur de cassis 
is made from black Currants ; and a refreshing drink, 
Eaii de groseiUes, from the red. 

Some forty years ago, at the time of the Crimean war 
a patriotic song in praise of the French flag was most 
popular in our streets, and had for its refrain, " Hurrah 
for the Red, White, and Blue ! " So valuable for food 
and physics are our tricoloured Currants that the same 
argot may be justly paraphrased in their favour, with 
a well-merited eulogiam of " Hurrah for the White, Red, 
and Black ! " 


The yellow Dafl'odil, which is such a favourite flower of 
our early Spring because of its large size, and showy 
yellow colour, grows commonly in English Avoods, fields, 
and orchards. Its popular names, Daff'odowndilly, 
Daflbdily, and AfFodily, bear reference to the Asphodel, 
with which blossom of the ancient Greeks this is identical. 
It further owns the botanical name of Narcissus (pseudo- 
narcissus) — not after the classical youth who met with 
his death through vainly trying to embrace his image 
reflected in a clear stream because of its exquisite beauty, 
and who is fabled to have been therefore changed into 
the flower — but by reason of the narcotic properties 
which the plant possesses, as signified by the Greek 
word, Narkao, "to benumb," Pliny described it as 
a Narce narcissiim dictum, non a fabuloso puero. An ex- 
tract of the bulbs when applied to open wounds has 
produced staggering, numbness of the whole nervous 
system, and paralysis of the heart. Socrates called this 
plant the " Cuaplet of the Infernal Gods," because of its 


narcotic effects. Nevertheless, the roots of the asphodel 
were thought by the ancient Greeks to be edible, and 
they were therefore laid in tombs as food for the dead. 
Lucian tells us that Charon, the ferryman who rowed 
the souls of the departed over the river Styx, said : "I 
know why Mercury keeps us waiting here so long. 
Down in these regions there is nothing to be had but 
asphodel, and oblations, in the midst of mist and dark- 
ness ; whereas up in heaven he finds it all bright and 
clear, with ambrosia there, and nectar in plenty." 

In the Middle Ages the roots of the Daflbdil were called 
aid regis, " food for a king " ; but his Majesty must have 
had a disturbed night after partaking thereof, as they 
are highly stimulating to the kidneys : indeed, there is 
strong reason for supposing that these roots have a prior 
claim to those of the dandelion for lectimingous fame, 
{ledns, " the bed " ; mingo, to " irrigate"). 

The brilliant yellow blossom of the Daffodil possesses, 
as is well known, a bell-shaped crown in the midst of its 
petals, which is strikingly characteristic. The flower-stalk 
is hollow, bearing on its summit a membranous sheath, 
which envelops a single flower of an unpleasant odour. 
But the Jonquil, which is a cultivated variety of the 
Daffodil, having white petals with a yellow crown, yields 
a delicious perfume, which modern chemistry can closely 
imitate by a hydrocarbon compound. If " naphthalin," 
a product of coal tar oil, has but the smallest particle of 
its scent diffused in a room, the special aroma of jonquil 
and narcissus is at once perceived. 

When the flowers of the Daffodil are dried in the 
sun, if a decoction of them is made, from fifteen 
to thirty grains will prove emetic like that of 
Ipecacuanha. From five to six ounces of boiling 
water should be poured on this quantity of the dried 



flowers, and should stand for twenty minutes. It will 
then serve most usefully for relieving the congestive 
bronchial catarrh of children, being sweetened, and given 
one third at a time every ten or fifteen minutes until it 
provokes vomiting. It is also beneficial in this way, but 
when given less often, for epidemic dysentery. 

The chemical principles of the Dafibdil have not been 
investigated ; but a yellow volatile oil of disagreeable 
odour, and a brown colouring matter, have been got 
from the flowers. 

The Arabians commended this oil to be applied 
for curing baldness, and for stimulating the sexual 

Herrick alludes in his Hesperides to the Daffodil as 
portentous of death : — 

" When a Daffodil I see 
Hanging down its head towards me, 
Guess I may what I must be — 
First I shall decline my head ; 
Secondly. I shall be dead ; 
Lastly, safely buried." 

Daff'odils, popularly known in this country as Lent 
Lilies, are called by the French Pauvres filles de Sainte 
Clare. The name Junquillo is the Spanish diminutive of 
Junco, " the rush," and is given to the jonqud because of 
its slender rush-like stem. From its fragrant flowers a 
sweet-smelling yellow oil is obtained. 

The medicinal influence of the Daffodil on the nervous 
system has led to giving its flowers and its bulb for 
hysterical affections, and even epilepsy, with benefit. 


Our English Daisy is a composite flower which is called 
in the glossaries " gowan," or Yellow flower. Botanically 



it is named Bellis perenniSj probably from hellis, " in 
fields of battle," because of its fame in healing the wounds 
of soldiers ; and j^er^y^/tis as implying that though "the 
rose has but a summer reign, the daisy never dies." 
The flower is likewise known as " Bainwort," " beloved 
by children," and " the lesser Consound." The whole 
plant has been carefully and exhaustively proved for 
curative purposes; and a medicinal tincture (H.) is now 
made from it with spirit of wine. Gerard says : 
" Daisies do mitigate all kinds of pain, especially in the 
joints, and gout proceeding from a hot humour, if 
stamped with new butter and applied upon the pained 
place." And, " The leaves of Daisies used among pot- 
herbs do make the belly soluble." Pliny tells us the 
Daisy was used in his time with Mugwort as a resolvent 
to scrofulous tumours. 

The leaves are acrid and pungent, being ungrateful 
to cattle, and even rejected by geese. These and the 
flowers, when chewed experimentally, have provoked 
giddiness and pains in the arms as if from coming boils :. 
also a development of boils, " dark, fiery, and very sore," 
on the back of the neck, and outside the jaws. For 
preventing, or aborting these same distressing formations 
when they begin to occur spontaneously, the tincture of 
Daisies should be taken in doses of five drops three 
times a day in water. Likewise this medicine should 
be given curatively on the principle of affinity between 
it and the symptoms induced in provers who have 
taken the same in material toxic doses, '-when the brain 
is muddled, the sight dim, the spirits soon depressed, the 
temper irritable, the skin pimply, the heart apt to 
flutter, and the whole aspect careworn ; as if from early 
excesses." Then the infusion of the plant in tablespoon- 
ful doses, or the diluted tincture, will answer admirably 



to renovate and re-establish the health and strength 
of the sufferer. 

The flowers and leaves are found to afford a consider- 
able quantity of oil and of ammoniacal salts. The root 
was named Consolida minima by older physicians. 
Fabricius speaks of its efficacy in curing wounds and 
contusions. A decoction of the leaves and flowers was 
given internally, and the bruised herb blended with lard 
was applied outside. " The leaves stamped do take away 
bruises and swellings, whereupon, it was called in old 
time Bruisewort." If eaten as a spring salad, or boiled 
like spinach, the leaves are pungent, and slightly 

Being a diminutive plant with roots to correspond, 
the Daisy, on the doctrine of signatures, was formerly 
thought to arrest the bodily growth if taken with this 
view. Therefore its roots boiled in broth were given to 
young puppies so as to keep them of a small size. For 
the same reason the fairy Milkah fed her foster child 
on this plant, that his height might not exceed that 
of a pigmy " : — 

" She robbed dwarf elders of their fragrant fruit, 
And fed him early with the daisy-root, 
Whence through his veins the powerful juices ran, 
And formed the beauteous miniature of man." 

" Daisy-roots and cream " were prescribed by the fairy 
godmothers of our childhood to stay the stature of those 
gawky youngsters who were shooting up into an un- 
gainly development like "ill weeds growing apace." 

Daisies were said of old to be under the dominion of 
Venus, and later on they were dedicated to St. Margaret 
of Cortona. Therefore they were reputed good for the 
special illnesses of females. It is remarkable there is no 



Greek word for this plant, or flower. Ossian the Gaelic 
poet feigns that the Daisy, whose white investments 
figure innocence, was first " sown above a baby's grave 
by the dimpled hands of infantine angels." 

During mediseval times the Daisy was worn by knights 
at a tournament as an emblem of fidelity. In his poem 
the Flower and the Leaf, Chaucer, who was ever loud in 
his praises of the "Eye of Day" — "empresse and fioure 
of floures all," thus pursues his theme : — 

•* And at the laste there hegan anon 
A lady for to sing right womanly 
A bargaret in praising the Daisie : 
For — as methought among her notes sweet, 
She said, ' Si doiicet est la Margarete.' " 

The French name Marguerite is derived from a 
supposed resemblance of the Daisy to a pearl ; and in 
Germany this flower is known as the Meadow Pearl. 
Likewise the Greek word for a pearl is Margaritas. 

A saying goes that it is not Spring until a person can 
put his foot on twelve of these flowers. In the cultivated 
red Daisies used for bordering our gardens, the yellow 
central boss of each compound flower has given place to 
strap-shaped florets like the outer rays, and without 
pollen, so that the entire flower consists of this purple 
inflorescence. Bat such aristocratic culture has made 
the blossom unproductive of seed. Like many a proud 
and belted Earl, each of the pampered and richly 
coloured Daisies pays the penalt}^ of its privileged luxu- 
riance by a disability from perpetuating its species. 

The Moon Daisy, or Oxeye Daisy (Lemanthemum 
Crysanthemuni), St. John's flower, belonging to the same 
tribe of plants, grows commonly with an erect stem 
about two feet high, in dry pastures and roads, bearing 
large solitary flowers, which are balsamic and make a 



useful infusion for relieving chronic coughs, and for 
bronchial catarrhs. Boiled with some of the leaves and 
stalks they form, if sweetened with honey, or barley 
sugar, an excellent posset drink for the same purpose. 
In America the root is employed successfully for check- 
ing the night sweats of pulmonary consumption, a fluid 
extract thereof being made for this object, the dose of 
which is from fifteen to sixty drops in water. 

The Moon Daisy is mimed Maudlin- wort from St. 
Mary Magdalene, and bears its lunar name from the 
Grecian goddess of the moon, Artemis, who particularly 
governed the female health. Similarly, our bright little 
Daisy, " the constellated flower that never sets," owns 
the name Herb Margaret. The Moon Daisy is also 
called Bull Daisy, Gipsies' Daisy, Goldings, Midsummer 
Daisy, Mace Flinwort, and Espilawn. Its young leaves 
are sometimes used as a flavouring in soups and stews. 
The flower was compared to the representation of a full 
moon, and was formerly dedicated to the Isis of the 
Egyptians. Tom Hood wrote of a traveller estranged 
far from his native shores, and walking despondently in 
a distant land : — 

" When lo ! he starts with glad surprise, 

Home thoughts come rushing o'er him, 
For, modest, wee, and crimson-tipped 

A flower he sees before him. 
With eager haste he stoops him down, 

His eyes with moisture hazy ; 
And as he plucks the simple bloom 

He murmurs, ' Lawk, a Daisy ' " ! 


Owing to long years of particular evolutionary sagacity 
in developing winged seeds to be wafted from the silky 
pappus of its ripe flowerheads over wide areas of land. 



the Dandelion exhibits its handsome golden flowers in 
every field and on every ground plot throughout the 
whole of our country. They are to be distinguished 
from the numerous hawkweeds, by having the outermost 
loaves of their exterior cup bent downwards whilst the 
stalk is coloured and shining. The plant-leaves have 
jagged edges which resemble the angular jaw of a lion 
fully supplied with teeth ; or, some writers say, the herb 
has been named from the heraldic lion which is vividly 
yellow, with teeth of gold — in fact, a dandy lion ! 
Again, the flower closely resembles the sun, which a lion 
represents. It is called by some Blowball, Time Table, 
and Milk " Gowan " (or golden). 

" How like a prodigal does Nature seem, 
When thou with all thy gold so common art." 

In some of our provinces the herb is known as 
Wiggers, and Swinesnout ; whilst again in Devon and 
Cornwall it is called the Dashelflower. Botanically it 
belongs to the composite order, and is named Taraxacum 
Leontodon, or eatable, and lion-toothed. This latter 
when Latinised is dens leonis, and in French dent de lion. 
The title Taraxacum is an Arabian corruption of the 
Greek trogimon, " edible " ; or it may have been derived 
from the Greek taraxos, " disorder," and aJws, " remedy.'' 
It once happened that a plague of insects destroyed the 
harvest in the island of Minorca, so that the inhabitants 
had to eat the wild produce of the country ; and many of 
them then subsisted for some while entirely on this 
plant. The Dandelion, which is a wild sort of Succory, 
was known to Arabian physicians, since Avicenna of 
the eleventh century mentions it as taraxacon. It is 
found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America ; 
possessing a root which abounds with milky juice, and 



this varying in character according to the time of year 
in which the plant is gathered. 

During the winter the sap is thick, sweet, and 
albuminous ; but in summer time it is bitter and acrid. 
Frost causes the bitterness to diminish, and sweetness 
to take its place ; but after the frost this bitterness 
returns, and is intensified. The root is at its best for 
yielding juice about November. Chemically the active 
ingredients of the herb are taraxacin, and taraxa- 
cerine, with inulin (a sort of sugar), gluten, gum, 
albumen, potash, and an odorous resin, which is com- 
monly supposed to stimulate the liver, and the biliary 
organs. Probably this reputed virtue was assigned at 
first to the plant largely on the doctrine of signatures, 
because of its bright yellow flowers of a bilious hue. But 
skilled medical provers who have experimentally tested 
the toxical effects of the Dandelion plant have found it to 
produce, when taken in excess, troublesome indigestion, 
characterised by a tongue coated \\ith a white skin 
which peels oft" in patches, leaving a raw surface, whilst 
the kidneys become unusually active, with profuse night 
sweats, and an itching nettle rash. For these several 
symptoms when occurring of themselves, a combination 
of the decoction, and the medicinal tincture will be 
invariably curative. 

To make a decoction of the root, one part of this 
dried, and sliced, should be gently boiled for fifteen 
minutes in twenty parts of water, and strained off" when 
cool. It may be sweetened with brown sugar, or honey, 
if unpalatable when taken alone, several teacupfuls 
being given during the day. Dandelion roots as collected 
for the market are often adulterated with those of the 
common Hawkbit {Leontodon hispldus) ; but these are 
more tough and do not give out any milky juice. 



The tops of the roots dug out of the ground, with the 
tufts of the leaves remaining thereon, and blanched by 
being covered in the earth as they grow, if gathered in 
the spring, are justly esteemed as an excellent vernal 
salad. It was with this homely fare the good Avise 
Hecate entertained Theseus, as we read in Evelyn's 
Acetaria. Bergius says he has seen intractable cases of 
liver congestion cured, after many other remedies had 
failed, by the patients taking daily for some months, a 
broth made from Dandelion roots stewed in boiling water, 
with leaves of Sorrel, and the yelk of an egg ; though 
(he adds) they swallowed at the same time cream of 
tartar to keep their bodies open. 

Incidentally with respect to the yelk of an egg, as 
prescribed here, it is an established fact that patients 
have been cured of obstinate jaundice by taking a raw 
egg on one or more mornings while fasting. Dr. Paris 
tells us a special oil is to be extracted from the yelks 
(only) of hard boiled eggs, roasted in pieces in a frying 
pan until the oil begins to exude, and then pressed 
hard. Fifty eggs well fried will yield about five ounces 
of this oil, which is acrid, and so enduringly liquid that 
watch-makers use it for lubricating the axles and pivots 
of their most delicate wheels. Old eggs furnish the oil 
most abundantly, and it certainly acts as a very useful 
medicine for an obstructed liver. Furthermore the 
shell, when finely triturated, has served by its potential- 
ised lime to cure some forms of cancer. Sweet are the 
uses of adversity ! even such as befell the egg symbolised 
by Humpty-Dumpty : — 

" Humptius in muro requievit Dumptius alto, 
Humptius e muro Dumptius — heu ! cecidit ! 
Sed non Regis equi, Reginse exercitus omnia 
Humpti, te, Dumpti, restituere loco." 



The medicinal tincture of Dandelion is made from the 
entire plant, gathered in summer, employing proof 
spirit which dissolves also the resinous parts not soluble 
in water. From ten to fifteen drops of this tincture 
may be taken with a spoonful of water three times in 
the day. 

Of the freshly prepared juice, which should not be 
kept long as it quickly ferments, from two to three tea- 
spoonfuls are a proper dose. The leaves when tender 
and white in the spring are taken on the Continent in 
salads, or they are blanched, and eaten with bread and 
butter. Parkinson says : " Whoso is drawing towards a 
consumption, or ready to fall into a cachexy, shall find 
a wonderful help from the use thereof, for some time 
together." Officially, according to the London College, 
are prepared from the fresh dried roots collected in the 
autumn, a decoction (one ounce to a pint of boiling 
Avater), a juice, a fresh extract, and an inspissated liquid 

Because of its tendency to provoke involuntary urina- 
tion at night, the Dandelion has acquired a vulgar 
suggestive appellation which expresses this fact in most 
homely terms : quasi lierha lediminga, et urinaria dicitur : 
and this not only in our vernacular, but in most of the 
European tongues : quia plus lotii in vesicam derivat 
qnam puendis retineatur prcesertim inter dormiendum, eoque 
tunc imprudentes et invifi stragula permingunt. 

At Gottingen, the roots are roasted and used instead 
of coffee by the poorer folk ; and in Derbyshire the juice 
of the stalk is applied to remove warts. The floAver of 
the Dandelion when fully blown is named Priest's 
Crown {Caput monachi), from the resemblance of its 
naked receptacle after the winged seeds have been all 
blown away, to the smooth shorn head of a Roman 



cleric. So Hurdis sings in his poem The Village 

Car ate : — 

*• The Dandelion this : 
A college youth that flashes for a day 
All gold : anon he doffs his gaudy suit, 
Touched by the magic hand of Bishop grave, 
And all at once by commutation strange 
Becomes a reverend priest : and then how sleek ! 
How full of grace ! with silvery wig at first 
So nicely trimmed, which presently grov/s bald. 
But let me tell you, in the pompous globe 
Which rounds the Dandelion's head is fitly couched 
Divinity most rare." 

Boys gather the flower when ripe, and blow away the 
ball of its silky seed vessels ai the crown, to learn the 
time of da}^ thus sportively making : — 
" Dandelion wich globe of down 
The school-boy's clock in every town." 


Dates are the most wholesome and nourishing of all 
our imported fruits. Children especially appreciate 
their luscious sweetness, as afforded by an abundant 
sugar which is easily digested, and which quickly 
repairs waste of heat and fat. With such a view, like- 
wise, doctors now advise dates for consumptive patients; 
also because they soothe an irritable chest, and promote 
expectoration ; whilst, furthermore, they prevent costive- 
ness. Dates are the fruit of the Date palm [Phcenix 
dadijlifem), or. Tree of Life. 

In old English Bibles of the sixteenth century, the 
name Date-tree is constantly given to the Palm, and the 
fruit thereof was the first found by the Israelites when 
wandering in the Wilderness. 

Oriental writers have attributed to this tree a certain 
semi-human consciousness. The name Phcenix was 



bestowed on the Date palm because a young shoot springs 
always from the withered stump of an old decayed 
Date tree, taking the place of the dead parent ; and the 
specific term Dadylifem refers to a fancied resemblance 
between clusters of the fruit and the human fingers. 

The Date palm is remarkably fond of water, and will 
not thrive unless growing near it, so that the Arabs say : 
"In order to flourish, its feet must be in the water, 
and its head in the fire (of a hot sun)." Travellers 
across the desert, when seeing palm Dates in the horizon, 
know that wells of water will be found near at hand : at 
the same time they sustain themselves with Date jam. 

In some parts of the East this Date palm is thought 
to have been the tree of the forbidden fruit in the 
Garden of Eden. It is mystically represented as the 
tree of life in the sculptured foliage of early French 
churches, and on the primitive mosaics found in the 
apses of Roman Basilicas. Branches of this tree are 
carried about in Catholic countries on Palm Sunday. 
Formerly Dates were sent to England and elsewhere 
packed in mats from the Persian gulf ; but now they 
arrive in clean boxes, neatly laid, and free from duty ; 
so that a wholesome, sustaining, and palatable meal may 
be had for one penny, if they are eaten with bread. 

The Egyptian Dates are superior, being succulent 
and luscious when new, but apt to become somewhat 
hard after Christmas. 

The Dates, however, which surpass all others in their 
general excellence, are grown with great care at Tafilat, 
two or three hundred miles inland from Morocco, a 
region to which Europeans seldom penetrate. 

These Dates travel in small packages by camel, rail, 
and steamer, being of the best quality, and highly 
valued. Their exportation is prohibited by the African 



authorities at Tafilat, unless the fruit crop has been 
large enough to allow thereof after gathering the harvest 
•with much religious ceiemony. 

Dates of a second quality are brought from Tunis, 
being intermixed with fragments of stalk and branch ; 
whilst the inferior sorts come in the form of a cake, or 
paste {adjoiiel), being pressed into baskets. In this shape 
they were tolerably common with us in Tudor times, 
and were then used for medicinal purposes. Strutt 
mentions a grocer's bill delivered in 1581, in which 
occurs the item of six pounds of dates supplied at a 
funeral for two shillings ; and we read that in 1821 
the best kind of dates cost five shillings a pound. 

If taken as a portable refection by jurymen and 
others who may be kept from their customary food 
Dates will prevent exhaustion, and will serve to keep 
active the energies of mind and body. The fruit should 
be selected when large and soft, being moist, and of a 
reddish yellow colour outside, and not much wrinkled, 
whilst having within a white membrane between the 
flesh and the stone. 

Beads for rosaries are made in Barbary from Date 
stones turned in a lathe ; or when soake 1 in water for 
a couple of days the stones may be given to cattle as a 
nutritious food, being first ground in a mill. The 
fodder being astringent will serve by its tannin, which 
is abundant, to cure or prevent looseness. 

In a clever parody on Bret Harte's "Heathen Chinee," 
an undergraduate is detected in having primed himself 
before examination thus : — 

" Inscribed on his cuffs were the Furies, and Fates, 
With a dehcate map of the Dorian States : 
Whilst they found in his palms, which were hollow, 
What are common in Palms — namely, Dates." 



Again, a conserve is prepared by the Egyptians from 
unripe Dates whole with sugar. The soft stones are 
edible : and this jam, though tasteless, is very nourishing. 
The Arabs say that Adam when driven out of Paradise 
took with him three things — the Date, chief of all fruits, 
the Mjrtle, and an ear of Wheat. 

Another Palm — the Sagns, or, C/jcus revoluta, — which 
grows naturally in Japan and the East Indian Islands, 
being also cultivated in English hot-houses, yields by its 
gummy pith our highly nutritious sago. This when 
cooked is one of the best and most sustaining foods for 
children and infirm old persons. The Indians reserve 
their finest sago for the aged and afflicted. A fecula is 
washed from the abundant pith, which is chemically a 
starch, very demulcent, and more digestible than that of 
rice. It never ferments in the stomach, and is very 
suitable for hectic persons. By the Arabs the pith of 
the Date-bearing Palm is eaten in like manner. The 
simple wholesome virtues of this domestic substance 
have been told of from childhood in the w^ell-known 
nursery rhyme, which has been playfully rendered into 
Latin and French : — 

'* There was an old man of lago 
Whom they kept upon nothing but sago ; 
Oh! how he did jump when the doctor said plump: 
' To a roast leg of mutton you may go.' " 

" Jamdudum senior quidam de rure Tobagus 
Invito mad das carpserat ore dapes ; 
Sod medicus tandem non injucunda locutus: 
' Assoe ' dixit ' oves sunt tibi coena, senex.' " 

" J'ai entendu parler d'un veillard de Tobag 
Qui ne mangea longtemps que du ris et du sague ; 
Mais enfin le medecin lui dit ces mots : 
' Allez vous en, mon ami, au gigot.' " 




Cordial waters distilled from the fragrant herb called 
Dill are, as ever}^ mother and monthly nurse well 
know, a sovereign remedy for wind in the infant; 
whilst they serve equally well to correct flatulence in 
the gi'own up "gourmet." This highly scented plant 
{Anethum gmveolens) is of Asiatic origin, growing wild 
also in some parts of England, and commonly cultivated 
in our gardens for kitchen or medicinal uses. 

It "hath a little stalk of a cubit high, round, and 
joyned, whereupon do grow leaves very finely cut, like 
to those of Fennel, but much smaller." The herb is of 
the umbelliferous order, and its fruit chemically fur- 
nishes "anethol," a volatile empyreumatic oil similar 
to that contained in the Anise, and Caraway. Virgil 
speaks of the Dill in his Second Eclogue as the bene olens 
anetJmm, "a pleasant and fragrant plant." Its seeds 
were formerly directed to be used by the Fharmacopoeias 
of London and Edinburgh. Forestus extols them for 
allaying sickness and hiccough. Gerard says: "Dill 
stayeth the yeox, or hicquet, as Dioscorides has taught." 

The name Anethum was a radical Greek term (aitho — 
to burn), and the herb is still called Anet in some of 
our country districts. The pungent essential oil which 
it yields consists of a hydrocarbon, "carvene," together 
with an oxygenated oil. It is a "gallant expeller of the 
wind, and provoker of the terms." "Limbs that are 
swollen and cold if rubbed with the oil o' Dill are much 
eased, if not cured thereby." 

A dose of the essential oil if given for flatulent 
indigestion should be from two to four drops, on sugar, 
or with a tablespoonful of milk. Of the distilled water 
sweetened, one or two teaspoonfuls may be given to an 



The name Dill is derived from the Saxon verb dilla, 
to lull, because of its tranquillizing properties, and its 
causing children to sleep. This word occurs in the 
vocabulary of Oelfric, Archbishop of Canterbury, tenth 
century. Dioscorides gave the oil got from the flowers 
for rheumatic pains, and sciatica ; also a carminative 
water distilled from the fruit, for increasing the milk of 
wet nurses, and for appeasing the windy belly-aches of 
babies. He teaches that a teaspoonful of the bruised 
seeds if boiled in water and taken hot with bread soaked 
therein, wonderfully helps such as are languishing from 
hardened excrements, even though they may have 
vomited up their faeces. 

The plant is largely grown in the East Indies, where 
it is known as Soyali. Its fruit and leaves are used for 
flavouring pickles, and its water is given to parturient 

Drayton speaks of the Dill as a magic ingredient in 
love potions ; and the weird gipsy, Meg Merrilies, 
crooned a cradle song at the birth of Harry Bertram in 
which it Avas said : — 

"Trefoil, vervain, John's wort, Dill, 
Hinder witches of their will." 


The term Dock is botanically a noun of multitude, 
meaning originally a bundle of hemp, and corresponding 
to a similar word signifying a flock. It became in early 
times applied to a wide-spread tribe of broad-leaved 
wayside weeds. They all belong to the botanical order 
of Folygonacece, or " many kneed " plants, because, like 
the wife of Yankee Doodle, i'amous in song, they are 
"double-jointed;" though he, poor man! expecting to 
find Mistress Doodle doubly active in her household 



duties, was, as the rhyme says, " disappointed." The 
name "Dock" was first applied to the Arctium Lappa, or 
Bur-dock, so called because of its seed-vessels becoming 
frequently entangled by their small hooked spines in 
the wool of sheep passing along by the hedge-rows. 
Then the title got to include other broad-leaved herbs, 
all of the Sorrel kiiid, and used in pottage, or in 

Of the Docks which are here recognized, some are 
cultivated, such as Garden Rhubarb, and the Monk's 
Ehubarb, or herb Patience, an excellent pot herb ; 
whilst others grow wild in meadows, and by river sides, 
such as the round-leafed Dock {Ramex ohtusifolius), the 
sharp-pointed Dock {liiimex acutus), the sour Dock {Rumex 
acetosus), the great water Dock {Rumex h}/drolapathum), 
and the bloody-veined Dock (Rumex sanguineus). 

All these resemble our garden rhubarb more or less 
in their general characteristics, and in possessing nuich 
tannin. Most of them chemically furnish " rumicin, ' or 
crysophanic acid, which is highly useful in several 
chronic diseases of the skin among scrofulous patients. 
The generic name of several Docks is rumex, from the 
Hebrew rit>;?rtf A, a " spear " ; others are called lajxithum, 
from the Greek verb lapazein, to cleanse, because they 
act medicinally as purgatives. 

The common wayside Dock {Rumex ohtusifolius) is the 
most ordinary of all the Docks, being large and spread- 
ing, and so coarse that cattle refuse to eat it. The 
leaves are often applied as a rustic remedy to burns and 
scalds, and are used for dressing blisters. Likewise a 
popular cure for nettle stings is to rub them with a 
Dock leaf, saying at the same time : — 

Out nettle : in Dock ; 

Dock shall have a new smock." 



or : — 

"Nettle out: Dock in ; 
Dock remove the nettle sting." 

A. tea made from the root was formerly given for the 
cure of boils, and the plant is frequently called Butter- 
dock, because its leaves are put into use for wrapping 
up butter. This Dock Avill not thrive in poor worthless 
soil; but its broad foliage serves to lodge the destructive 
turnip fly. The root when di'ied may be added to tooth 

It was under the broad leaf of a roadside Dock that 
Hop o' My Thumb, famous in nursery lore, sought 
refuge from a storm, and was unfortunately swallowed 
whilst still beneath the leaf by a passing hungry cow. 

The herb Patience, or Monk's Rhubarb (liiunexaljjinus), 
a Griselda among herbs, may be given with admirable 
efFt.'ct in pottage, as a domestic aperient, "loosening the 
belly, helping the jaundice, and dispersing the tympany." 
This grows wild in some parts, by roadsides, and near 
cottages, but is not common except as a cultivated herb 
in the kitchen-garden, known as "Patience-dock." It is 
a remarkable fact that the toughest flesh -meat, if boiled 
with the herb, or with other kindred docks, Avill become 
quite tender. The name Patience, or Passions, was 
probably from the Italian Lapardo, a conuption of 
Lapathvm, which was mistaken for la passio, the passion 
of Christ. 

Our Garden lihuharb is a true Dock, and belongs to the 
"many-kneed," buckwheat order of plants. Its brilliant 
c flouring is due to varying states of its natural pigment 
[chlorophjU), in combination with oxygen. For culinary 
purposes the stalk, or petiole of the broad leaf, is used. 
Its chief nutrient property is glucose, which is identical 
with grape-sugar. The agreeable taste and odour of the 



plant are not brought out until the leaf stalks are cooked. 
It came originally from the Volga, and has been grown 
in this country since 1573. The sour taste of the stalks 
is due to oxalic acid, or rather to the acid oxalate of 
potash. This combines with the lime elaborated in the 
system of a gouty person (having an " oxalic acid dis- 
position), and makes insoluble and injurious products 
which have to be thrown off by the kidneys as oxalate 
crystals, with much attendant irritation of the general 
system. Sorrel {liumex acetosus) acts with such a person 
in just the same way, because of the acid oxalate of 
potash which it contains. 

Garden Rhubarb also possesses albumen, gum, and 
mineral matters, with a small quantity of some volatile 
essence. The proportion of nutritive substance to the 
water and vegetable fibre is very small. As an article 
of food it is objectionable for gouty persons liable to the 
passage of highly coloured urine, which deposits lithates 
and urates as crystals after it has cooled ; and this espe- 
cially holds good if hard water, which contains lime, is 
drunk at the same time. 

The round-leaved Dock, and the sharp-pointed Dock, 
together with the bloody-veined Dock (which is very 
conspicuous because of its veins and petioles abounding 
in a blood -coloured juice), make respectively with their 
astringent roots a useful infusion against bleedings and 
fluxes ; also with their leaves a decoction curative of 
several chronic skin diseases. 

The Piumex acetosus (Sour Dock, or Sorrel), though 
likely to disagree with gouty persons, nevertheless 
supplies its leaves as the chief constituent of the 
Soupe aux herhes, which a French lady will order for 
herself after a long and tiring journey. Its title is 
derived as some think, from struma, because curative 



thereof. This Dock further bears the names of Sour 
sabs, Sour grabs, Soursuds, Soursauce, Cuckoo sorrow, 
and Greensauce. Because of their acidity the leaves 
make a capital dressing with stewed lamb, veal, or 
sweetbread. Country people beat the herb to a mash, 
and take it mixed with vinegar and sugar as a green 
sauce with cold meat. When boiled by itself without 
water it serves as an excellent accompaniment to roast 
goose or pork instead of apple sauce. The root of 
Sorrel when dried has the singular property of impart- 
ing a fine red colour to boiling water, and it is therefore 
used by the French for making barley water look like 
red wine when they wish to avoid giving anything of a 
vinous character to the sick. In Ireland Sorrel leaves 
are eaten with fish, and with other alkalescent foods. 
Because corrective of scrofulous deposits, Sorrel is 
specially beneficial towards the cure of scurvy. Applied 
externally the bruised leaves will purify foul ulcers. 
Says John Evelyn in his noted Acetaria (1720), "Sorrel 
sharpens the appetite, assuages heat, cools the liver and 
strengthens the heart ; it is an antiscorbutic, resisting 
putrefaction, and in the making of sallets imparts a 
grateful quickness to the rest as supplying the want of 
oranges and lemons. Together with salt it gives both 
the name and the relish to sallets from the sapidity 
which renders not plants and herbs only, but men 
themselves, and their conversations pleasant and agree- 
able. But of this enough, and perhaps too much ! lest 
while I write of salts and sallets I appear myself 

The Wood Sorrel {Oxalis acetosella) is a distinct plant 
from the Dock Sorrel, and is not one of the Foli/gondcece^ 
but a geranium, having a triple leaf which is often 
employed to symbolise the Trinity. Painters of old 




placed it in the foregToiiiid of their pictures when 
representing the crucifixion. The leaves are sharply 
acid through oxalate of potash, commonly called "Salts 
of Lemon," which is quite a misleading name in its 
apparent innocence as applied to so strong a poison. 
The petals are bluish coloured, veined with purple. 
Formerly, on account of its grateful acidity, a conserve 
was ordered by the London College to be made from the 
leaves and petals of AVood Sorrel, with sugar and 
orange peel, and it was called Conserva lujulce. 

The Burdock {Arctium lappa) grows very commonly 
in our waste places, with wavy leaves, and round heads 
of purple flowers, and hooked scales. From the seeds a 
medicinal tincture (H.) is made, and a fluid extract, of 
which from ten to thirty drops, given three times a day, 
with two tablespoonfuls of cold water, will materially 
benefit certain chronic skin diseases (such as psoriasis), 
if taken steadily for several weeks, or months. Dr. 
Keiter of Pittsburg, U.S.A., says the Burdock seed has 
proved in his hands almost a specific for psoriasis and 
for obstinate syphilis. The tincture is of special curative 
value for treating that depressed state of the general 
health which is associated with milky phosphates in the 
urine, and much nervous debility. Eight or ten drops 
of the reduced tincture should be given in water three 
times a day. 

The root in decoction is an excellent remedy for other 
skin diseases of the scaly, itching, vesicular, pimply and 
ulcerative characters. Many persons think it superior 
to Sarsaparilla. The burs of this Dock are sometimes 
called " Cocklebuttons," or " Cucklebuttons," and "Beg- 
garsbuttons." Its Anglo-Saxon name was "Fox's clote." 

Boys throw them into the air at dusk to catch bats, 
which dart at the Bur in mistake for a moth or fly ; 



then becoming entangled with the thorny spines they 
fall helplessly to the ground. Of the botanical names, 
Arctium is derived from arlios, a bear, in allusion to the 
roughness of the burs ; and Laiopa is from labein, to 
seize. Other appellations of the herb are Clot-bur 
(from sticking to clouts, or clothes), Clithe, Hurbur, and 
Hardock. The leaves when applied externally are 
highly resolvent for tumours, bruises, and gouty 
swellings. In the Philadeljjliia Recorder for January, 
1893, a striking case is given of a fallen womb cured 
after twenty years' duration b^^ a decoction of Burdock 
roots. The liquid extract acts as an admirable remedy 
in some forms (strumous) of longstanding indigestion. 
The roots contain starch ; and the ashes of the plant 
burnt when green yield carbonate of potash abundantly, 
with nitre, and inulin. 

The Yellow Curled Dock (Eumex crispus), so called 
because its leaves are crisped at their edges, grows 
freely in our roadside ditches, and waste places, as a 
common plant ; and a medicinal tincture which is very 
useful (H.) is made from it before it flowers. This is 
of particular service for giving relief to an irritable 
tickling cough of the upper air-tubes, and the throat, 
when these passages are rough and sore, and sensitive 
to the cold atmosphere, with a dry cough occurring in 
paroxysms. It is likewise excellent for dispelling any 
obstinate itching of the skin, in which respect it was 
singularly beneficial against the contagious army-itch 
which prevailed during the last American war. It acts 
like Sarsaparilla chiefl}^ for curing scrofulous skin 
affections and glandular swellings. To be applied 
externally an ointment may be made by boiling the 
root in vinegar until the fibre is softened, and by then 
mixing the pulp with lard (to which some sulphur is 



added at times). In all such cases of a scrofulous sort 
from five to ten drops of the tincture should be given 
two or three times a day with a spoonful of cold 

Kumicin is the active principle of the Yellow Curled 
Dock ; and from the root, containing chrysarobin, a 
dried extract is prepared officinally, of which from one 
to four grains may be given for a dose in a pill. This 
is useful for relieving a congested liver, as well as for 
scrofulous skin diseases. 

" Huds," or the great Water Dock (Bumex hjclro- 
lapatlium) is of frequent growth on our river banks, 
bearing numerous green flowers in leafless whorls, and 
being identical with the famous Herha Britaimica of 
Pliny. This name does not denote British origin, but 
is derived from three Teuton words, Irit, to tighten : 
tan^ a tooth ; and ica, loose ; thus expressing its power 
of bracing up loose teeth and spongy gums. Swedish 
ladies employ the powdered root as a dentifrice ; and 
gargles prepared therefrom are excellent for sore throat 
and relaxed uvula. The fresh root must be used, as it 
quickly turns yellow and brown in the air. The green 
leaves make a capital application for ulcers of the legs. 
They possess considerable acidity, and are laxative. 
Horace was aware of this fact, as we learn by his 
Sermonum, Lihr. ii., Satir 4 : — 

" Si dura morabitur alvus, 
Mytulus, et viles pellent, obstantia conchse, 
Et Lapathi brevis herba, sed albo non sine Coo." 


"'Arn,' or the common Elder," says Gerard, "groweth 
everywhere ; and it is planted about cony burrows, 
for the shadow of the conies." Formerly it was much 



cultivated near our English cottages, because supposed 
to afford protection against witches. Hence it is that 
the Elder tree may be so often seen immediately near 
old village houses. It acquired its name from the Saxon 
word eller or kindler, because its hollow branches were 
made into tubes to blow through for brightening up a dull 
fire. B}^ the Greeks it was called Aktee. The botanical 
name of the Elder is Samhucus nigra, from sambukee, a 
sackbut, because the young branches, with their pith 
removed, were brought into requisition for making the 
pipes of this, and other musical instruments. 

It was probably introduced as a medicinal plant at 
the time of the Monasteries. The adjective term 7iigra 
refers to the colour of the berries. These are without 
odour, rather acid, and sweetish to the taste. The 
French put layers of the flowers among apples, to which 
they impart an agreeable odour and flavour like 
muscatel. A tract on Elder and Juniper Berries, shmving 
how useful the;j may he in our Coffee Houses, is published 
with the Natural History of Coffee, 1682. Elder flowers 
are fatal to turkeys. 

Hippocrates gave the bark as a purgative ; and from 
his time the whole tree has possessed a medicinal 
celebrity, whilst its fame in the hands of the herbalist is 
immemorial. German writers have declared it contains 
within itself a magazine of physic, and a complete chest 
of medicaments. 

The leaves when bruised, if worn in the hat, or 
rubbed on the face, will prevent flies from settling on 
the person. Likewise turnips, cabbages, fruit trees, or 
corn, if whipped with the branches and green leaves of 
Elder, will gain an immunity from all depredations of 
blight ; but moths are fond of the blossom. 

Dried Elder flowers have a dull yellow colour, being 



shrivelled, and possessing a sweet faint smell, unlike the 
repulsive odour of the fresh leaves and baik. They 
have a somewhat bitter, gummy taste, and are sold in 
entire cymes, with the stalks. An open space now seen 
in Malvern Chase was formerly called Eldersfield, from 
the abundance of Elder trees which grew there. " The 
flowers were noted," says Mr. Symonds, "for eye 
ointments, and the berries for honey rob and black 
pigments. Mary of Eldersfield, the daughter of Boling- 
broke, was famous for her knowledge of herb pharmacy, 
and for the efficacy of her nostrums." 

Chemically the flowers contain a yellow, odorous, 
buttery oil, with tannin, and malates of potash and lime, 
whilst the berries furnish viburnic acid. On expression 
they yield a fine purple juice, which proves a useful 
laxative, and a resolvent in recent colds. Anointed on 
the hair they make it black. 

A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the fresh 
inner bark of the young branches. This, when given in 
toxical quantities, will induce profuse sweating, and 
will cause asthmatic symptoms to present themselves. 
When used in a diluted form it is highly beneficial for 
relieving the same symptoms, if they come on as an 
attack of illness, particularly for the spurious croup of 
children, Avhich wakes them at night with a suffocative 
cough and wheezing. A dose of four or five drops, if 
given at once, and perhaps repeated in fifteen minutes, 
will straightway prove of singular service. 

Sir Thomas Browne said that in his day the Elder 
had become a famous medicine for quinsies, sore throats, 
and strangulations. 

The inspissated juice or "rob" extracted from the 
crushed berries, and simmered with white sugar, is 
cordial, aperient, and diuretic. This has long been a 



popular English remedy, taken hot at bed-time, when a 
cold is caught. One or two tablespoonfuls are mixed 
with a tumblerful of very hot water. It promotes 
perspiration, and is demulcent to the chest. Five 
pounds of the fresh berries are to be used with one 
pound of loaf sugar, and the juice should be evaporated 
to the thickness of honey. 

The recent rob of the Elder spread thick upon a 
slice of bread and eaten before other dishes," says Dr. 
Blochwich, 1760, "is our wives' domestic medicine, 
which they use likewise in their infants and children 
whose bellies are stop't longer than ordinary ; for this 
juice is most pleasant and familiar to children ; or to 
loosen the belly drink a draught of the wine at your 
breakfast, or use the conserve of the buds." 

Also a capital wine, which may well pass for Fron- 
tignac, is commonly made from the fresh berries, with 
raisins, sugar, and spices. When well brewed, and 
three years' old, it constitutes English port. "A cup 
of mulled Elder wine, served with nutmeg and sippets 
of toast, just before going to bed on a cold wintry night, 
is "a thing," as Cobbet said, "to be run for." The juice 
of Elder root, if taken in a close of one or two table- 
spoonfuls when fasting, acts as a strong aperient, being 
"the most excellent purger of watery humours in the 
world, and very singular against dropsy, if taken once 
in the week." 

John Evelyn, in his Sylva (1729), said of the Elder: 
"If the medicinal properties of its leaves, bark, and 
berries, were fully known, I cannot tell what our 
countrymen could ail, for which he might not fetch 
a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness or 
wounds." "The buds boiled in water gruel have 
effected wonders in a fever," "and an extract composed 



of the berries greatly assists longevity. Indeed," — so 
famous is the story of Neander — " this is a catholicum 
against all infirmities whatever." " The leaves, though 
somewhat rank of smell, are otherwise, as indeed is the 
entire shrub, of a very sovereign virtue. The spring- 
buds are excellently wholesome in pottage ; and small 
ale, in which Elder flowers have been infused, are 
•esteemed by many so salubrious, that this is to be had 
in most of the eating houses about our town." 

"It Avere likewise profitable for the scabby if they 
made a sallet of those young buds, who in the beginning 
of the spring doe bud forth together with those out- 
breakings and pustules of the skin, which by the singular 
favour of nature is contemporaneous ; these being some- 
times macerated a little in hot water, together with oyle, 
salt, and vinegar, and sometimes eaten. It purgeth the 
belly, and freeth the blood from salt and serous humours" 
(1760). Further, "there be nothing more excellent to 
ease the pains of the haemorrhoids than a fomentation 
made of the flowers of the Elder and Ferbusie, or 
Honeysuckle, in water or milk, for in a short time it 
easeth the greatest pain." 

If the green leaves are warmed between two hot tiles, 
iind applied to the forehead, they will promptly relieve 
nervous headache. In Germany the Elder is regarded 
with much respect. From its leaves a fever drink is 
made ; from its berries a sour preserve, and a wonder- 
working electuary ; whilst the moon-shaped clusters of 
its aromatic flowers, being somewhat narcotic, are of 
service in baking small cakes. 

The Romans made use of the black Elder juice as a 
hair dye. From the flowers a fragrant water is now 
distilled as a perfume ; and a gently stimulating oint- 
ment is prepared with lard for dressing burns and 



scalds. Another ointment, concocted from the green 
berries, with camphor and lard, is ordered by the London 
College as curative of piles. "The leaves of Elder 
boiled soft, and with a little linseed oil added thereto, 
if then laid upon a piece of scarlet or red cloth, and 
applied to piles as hot as this can be suffered, being 
removed when cold, and replaced by one such cloth 
after another upon the diseased part by the space of an 
hour, and in the end some bound to the place, and the 
patient put warm to bed. This hath not yet failed at 
the first dressing to cure the disease, but if the patient 
be dressed twice, it must needs cure them if the first 
fail." The Elder was named Eldrun and Burtre by the 
Anglo-Saxons. It is now called Bourtree in Scotland, 
from the central pith in the younger branches which 
children bore out so as to make pop guns : — 

" Bour tree — Bour tree: crooked rung, 
Never straight, and never strong; 
Ever bush, and never tree 
Since our Lord was nailed on thee." 

The Elder is specially abundant in Kent around 
Folkestone. By the Gauls it was called " Scovies," and 
by the Britons "Iscaw." 

This is the tree upon which the legend represents 
Judas as having hanged himself, or of which the cross 
was made at the crucifixion. In Fiefs Plowman^s Vision 
it is said :-- 

"Judas he japed with Jewen silver, 
And sitlien an eller hanged hymselve." 

Gerard says " the gelly of the Elder, otherwise called 
Jew's ear, taketh away inflammations of the mouth and 
throat if they be washed therewith, and doth in like 
manner help the uvula." He refers here to a fungus 



which grows often from the trunk of the Elder, and the 
shape of which resembles the human ear. Alluding to 
this fungus, and to the supposed fact that the berries of 
the Elder are poisonous to peacocks, a quaint old rhyme 
runs thus : — 

"For the coughe take Judas' eare, 
With the paring of a peare, 
And dr3'nke them without feare 

If you will have remedy," 

" Three syppes for the hycocke, 
And six more for the chycocke : 
Thus will my pretty pycocke 
Recover hye and bye." 

Various superstitions have attached themselves in 
England to the Elder bush. The Tree-Mother has been 
thought to inhabit it; and it has been long believed that 
refuge may be safely taken under an Elder tree in a 
thunderstorm, because the cross was made therefrom, 
and so the lightning never strikes it. Elder was formerly 
buried with a corpse to protect it from witches, and 
even now at a funeral the driver of the hearse commonly 
has his whip handle made of Elder wood. Lord Bacon 
commended the rubbing of warts with a green Elder 
stick, and then burying the stick to rot in the mud. 
Brand says it is thought in some parts that beating with 
an Elder rod will check the growth of boys. A cross 
made of the wood if affixed to cow-houses and stables was 
supposed to protect cattle from all possible harm. 

Belonging to the order of Caprifoliaceous (with leaves 
eaten by goats) plants, the Elder bush grows to the size 
of a small tree, bearing many white flowers in large flat 
umbels at the ends of the branches. It gives off an 
unpleasant soporific smell, which is said to prove harm- 
ful to those that sleep under its shade. Our summer is 



not here until the Elder is fully in flower, and it ends 
when the berries are ripe. When taken together 
with the berries of Herb Paris (four-leaved Paris) 
they have been found very useful in epilepsj^ "Mark 
by the way," says Anatomie of the Elder (1760), "the 
berries of Herb Paris, called by some Bear, or AVolfe 
Grapes, is held by certain matrons as a great secret 
against epilepsie; and they give them ever in an unequal 
number, as three, five, seven, or nine, in the w^ater of 
Linden tree flowers. Others also do hang a cross made 
of the Elder and Sallow, mutually inwrapping one 
another, about the children's neck as anti-epileptick." 
" I learned the certainty of this experiment (Dr. Bloch- 
wich) from a friend in Leipsick, who no sooner erred in 
diet but he was seized on by this disease ; yet after he 
used the Elder wood as an amulet cut into little pieces, 
and sewn in a knot against him, he was free." Sheep 
suffering from the foot-rot, if able to get at the bark 
and young shoots of an Elder tree, will thereby cure 
themselves of this affection. The great Boerhaave 
always took off his hat when passing an Elder bush. 
Douglas Jerrold once, at a well-known tavern, ordered 
a bottle of port w^ine, which should be "old, but not 
Elder y 

The Dwarf Elder (Samhucus ehidiis) is quite a different 
shrub, which grows not infrequently in hedges and 
bushy places, with a herbaceous stem from two to three 
feet high. It possesses a smell which is less aromatic 
than that of the true Elder, and it seldom brings its 
fruit to ripeness. A rob made therefrom is actively 
purgative ; one tablespoonful for a dose. The root, 
which has a nauseous bitter taste, was formerly used in 
dropsies. A decoction made from it, as well as from 
the inner bark, purges, and promotes free urination. 



The leaves nicade into a poultice will resolve swellings, 
and relieve contusions. The odour of the green leaves 
will drive away mice from granaries. To the Dwarf 
Elder have been given the names Danewort, Danesweed, 
and Danesblood, probably because it brings about a loss 
of blood called the Danes," or perhaps as a corruption 
of its stated use conira quotidiancm. The plant is also 
known as Walewort, from wal — slaughter. It grows in 
great plenty about Slaughterford, Wilts, where there 
was a noted fight with the Danes ; and a patch of it 
thrives on ground in AVorcestershire, where the first 
blood was drawn in the civil war between the Parliament 
and the Royalists. Eumour says it will only prosper 
where blood has been shed eitlier in battle, or in 


" Elecampanj]," writes AVilliam Coles, "is one of the 
plants whereof England may boast as much as any, for 
there grows none better in the world than in England, 
let apothecaries and druggists say what they will." It 
is a tall, stout, downy plant, fi'om three to five feet 
high, of the Composite order, with broad leaves, and 
bright, yellow flowers. Campania is the original source 
of the plant {Enula canipana), which is called also Elf- 
wort, and Elf-dock. Its botanical title is Hehnium inula, 
to commemorate Helen of Troy, from whose tears the 
herb was thought to have sprung, or whose hands were 
full of the leaves when Paris carried her off from 
Menelaus. This title has become corrupted in some 
districts to Horse-heal, or Horse hele, or Horse-heel, 
through a double blunder, the word inula being mis- 
understood for liinnula, a colt ; and the term Hellenium 
being thought to have something to do with healing, or 



heels ; and solely on this account the Elecampane has 
been employed by farriers to cure horses of scabs and 
sore heels. Though found wild only seldom, and as a 
local production in our copses and meadows, it is 
cultivated in our gardens as a medicinal and culinary 
herb. The name miila is only a corruption of the 
Greek eleniuni ; and the herb is of ancient repute, 
having been described by Dioscorides. An old Latin 
distich thus celebrates its virtues : Enula campana redclit 
pmcordia saiia — -"Elecampane will the spirits sustain." 
" Julia Augusta," said Pliny, " let no day pass without 
eating some of the roots of Enula condired, to help 
digestion, and cause mirth." 

The mula was noticed by Horace, Satire viii., 51 : — ■ 

" Erucos virides inulas ego primus amaras 
Monstravi incoquere." 

Also the Enula campana has been identified with the 
herb Moly (of Homer), apo tou moleuein, from its 
mitigating pain." 

Prior to the Norman Conquest, and during the 
Middle Ages, the root of Elecampane was much 
employed in Great Britain as a medicine ; and likewise 
it was candied and eaten as a sweetmeat. Some fifty 
years ago the candy was sold commonly in London, as 
flat, round cakes, being composed largely of sugar, and 
coloured with cochineal. A piece v/as eaten each night 
and morning for asthmatical complaints, whilst it was 
customary when travelling by a river to suck a bit of 
the root against poisonous exhalations and bad air. The 
candy may be still had from our confectioners, but now 
containing no more of the plant Elecampane than there 
is of barley in barley sugar. 

Gerard says: "The flowers of this herb are in all 


their bravery during June and July; the roots should be 
gathered in the autumn. The plant is good for an old 
cough, and for such as cannot breathe freely unless they 
hold their necks upright ; also it is of great value when 
given in a loch, which is a medicine to be licked on. It 
voids out thick clammy humors, which stick in the 
chest and lungs." Galen says further : " It is good for 
passions of the huckle-bones, called sciatica. ' The root 
is thick and substantial, having, when sliced, a fragrant 
aromatic odour. 

Chemically, it contains a crystalline principle, resem- 
bling camphor, and called " helenin " ; also a starch, 
named " iiuilin," which is peculiar as not being soluble 
in water, alcohol, or ether ; and conjointly a volatile 
oil, a resin, albumen, and acetic acid. Inulin is allied 
to starch, and its crystallized camphor is separable into 
true helenin, and alantin camphor. The former is a 
powerful antiseptic to arrest putrefaction. In Spain it 
is much used as a surgical dressing, and is said to be 
more destructive than any other agent to the bacillus of 
cholera. Helenin is very useful in ulceration within 
the nose (ozoena), and in chronic bronchitis to lessen the 
expectoration. The dose is from a third of a grain to 
two grains. 

Furthermore, Elecampane counteracts the acidity of 
gouty indigestion, and regulates the monthly illnesses 
of women. The French use it in the distillation of 
absinthe, and term it Vaulnee, d'un lieu plante cVaulnes oil 
elle se plait. To make a decoction, half-an-ounce of the 
root should be gently boiled for ten minutes in a pint 
of water, and then allowed to cool. From one to two 
ounces of this may be taken three times in the day. Of 
the powdered root, from half to one teaspoonful may be 
given for a dose. 



A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared from the root, 
of Avhich thirty or fort}^ drops may be taken for a dose, 
with two tablespoonfuls of cold water ; but too large a 
dose will induce sickness. Elecampane is specifically 
curative of a sharp pain affecting the right elbow joint, 
and recurring daily ; also of a congestive headache 
coming on through costiveness of the lowest bowel. 
Moreover, at the present time, when there is so much 
talk about the inoculative treatment of pulmonary 
consumption by the cultivated virus of its special 
microbe, it is highly interesting to know that the 
helenin of Elecampane is said to be peculiarly destruc- 
tive to the bacillus of tubercular disease. 

In classic times the poet Horace told how Fundanius 
first taught the making of a delicate sauce, by boiling in 
it the bitter Inula (Elecampane) ; and how the Roman 
stomach, when surfeited with an excess of rich viands, 
pined for turnips, and the appetising Eiiulas acidas from 
frugal Campania : — 

" Quum rapula plenus 
Atque acidas mavult inulas." 


Found in abundance in summer time on our heaths, 
and on mountains near the sea, this delicate little plant, 
the Euphrasia officinalis, has been famous from earliest 
times for restoring and preserving the eyesight. The 
Greeks named the herb originally from the linnet, 
which first made use of the leaf for clearing its vision, 
and which passed on the knowledge to mankind. The 
same Greek word, eujiJumunee, signifies joy and gladness. 
The elegant little herb grows from two to six inches 
high, with deeply-cut leaves, and numerous white or 



purplish tiny flowers variegated with yellow ; being 
partially a parasite, and preying on the roots of other 
plants. It belongs to the order of scrofula-curing plants; 
and, as proved by positive experiment (H.), the Eye- 
bright has been recently found to possess a distinct 
sphere of curative operation, within which it manifests 
virtues which are as unvarying as they are truly 
potential. It acts specifically on the mucous lining of 
the eyes and nose, and the uppermost throat to the top 
of the windpipe, causing, when given so largely as to be 
injurious, a profuse secretion from these parts ; and, if 
given of reduced strength, it cures the same troublesome 
symptoms when due to catarrh. 

An attack of cold in the head, with copious running 
from the eyes and nose, may be aborted straightway by 
giving a dose of the infusion (made with an ounce of 
the herb to a pint of boiling water) every two hours ; 
as, likewise, for hay fever. A medicinal tincture (H.) 
is prepared from the whole plant with spirit of wine, of 
which an admirably useful lotion may be made together 
with rose water for simple inflammation of the eyes, 
Avith a bloodshot condition of their outer coats. Thirty 
drops of the tincture should be mixed with a wineglass- 
ful of rosewater for making this lotion, which may be 
used several times in the day. 

What precise chemical constituents occur in the Eye- 
bright beyond tannin, mannite, and glucose, are not yet 
recorded. In Iceland its expressed juice is put into 
requisition for most ailments of the eyes. Likewise, in 
Scotland, the Highlanders infuse the herb in milk, and 
employ this for bathing weak, or inflamed eyes. 
In France, the plant is named Casse lunettes ; and 
in Germany, Augen trost, or, consolation of the 



Surely the same little herb must have been growing 
freely in the hedge made famous by ancient nursery 
tradition : — 

" Thessalus aceu erat sapiens proe civibus unus 
Qui medium insiluit spineta per horrida sepem. 
Effoditque oculos sibi crudelissimus ambos. 
Cum vero effosos orbes sine lumine vidit 
Viribus enisum totis ilium altera sepes 
Accipit, et raptos oculos cito reddit egenti," 
" There was a man of Thessuly, and he was wondrous wise ; 
He jumped into a quick set hedge, and scratched out both 
his eyes ; 

Then, when he found his eyes were out, with all his might 
and main 

He jumped into the quick set hedge, and scratched them 
in again." 

Old herbals pronounced it " cephalic, ophthalmic, and 
good for a weak memory." Hildamus relates that it 
restored the sight of many persons at the age of seventy 
or eighty years. "Eyebright made into a powder, and 
then into an electuary with sugar, hath," says Culpeper, 
"powerful effect to help and to restore the sight decayed 
through years ; and if the herb were but as much used 
as it is neglected, it would have spoilt the trade of the 
spectacle maker." 

On the whole it is probable that the Eyebright will 
succeed best for eyes weakened by long-continued 
straining, and for those which are dim and watery from 
old age. Shenstone declared, "Famed Euphrasy may 
not be left unsung, which grants dim eyes to wander 
leagues around " ; and Milton has told us in Paradise 
Lost, Book XI :— 

" To nobler sights 
Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed. 
Then purged with Euphrasy and rue 
The visual nerve, for he had much to see." 




The Arabians knew the herb Eyebright under the name 
Adhil. It now makes an ingredient in British herbal 
tobacco, which is smoked most usefully for chronic 
bronchial colds. 

Some sceptics do not hesitate to say that the Eyebright 
owes its reputation solely to the fact that the tiny 
flower bears in its centre a yellow spot, which is darker 
towards the middle, and gives a close resemblance to 
the human eye; wherefore, on the doctrine of signatures, 
it was pronounced curative of ocular derangements. 
The present Poet Laureate speaks of the herb as : — 

" The Eyebright this, 
Whereof when steeped in wine I now must eat 
Because it strengthens mindfalness. " 

Grandmother Cooper, a gipsy of note for skill in 
bealing, practised the cure of inflamed and scrofulous 
eyes, by anointing them with clay, rubbed up with her 
spittle, which proved highly successful. Outside was 
applied a piece of rag kept wet with water in which a 
cabbage had been boiled. As confirmatory of this cure, 
we read reverently in the Gospel of St. John about the 
man "which was blind from his birth," and for whose 
restoration to sight our Saviour " spat on the ground, 
and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of 
the blind man with the clay." More than one eminent 
oculist has similarly advised that weak, ailing eyes should 
be dailj^ wetted on waking with the fasting saliva. And 
it IS well known that mothers' marks " of a superficial 
character, but even of a considerable size, become 
dissipated by a daily licking with the mother's tongue. 
Old Mizaldus taught that "the fasting spittle of a whole 
and sound person both quite taketh away all scurviness, 
or redness of the face, ringworms, tetters, and all kinds 



of pustules, by smearing or rubbing the infected place 
therewith ; and likewise it clean puts away thereby all 
painful swelling by the means of any venomous thing 
as hornets, spiders, toads, and such like." Healthy 
saliva is slightly alkaline, and contains sulphocyanate of 


^YE all know the pleasant taste of Fennel sauce when 
eaten with boiled mackerel. This culinary condiment is 
made with Sweet Fennel, cultivated in our kitchen 
gardens, and which is a variety of the wild Fennel 
growing commonly in England as the Finkel, especially 
in Cornwall and Devon, on chalky cliffs near the sea. 
It is then an aromatic plant of the umbelliferous order, 
but differing from the rest of its tribe in producing 
bright yellow flowers. 

Botanically, it is the Andliuni fcenicidum, or " small 
fragrant hay " of the Romans, and the Mamthron of 
the Greeks. The whole plant has a warm carminative 
taste, and the old Greeks esteemed it highly for pro- 
moting the secretion of milk in nursing mothers. Macer 
alleged that the use of Fennel was first taught to man 
by serpents. His classical lines on the subject when 
translated run thus : — 

" By eating herb o£ Fennel, for the eyes 
A cure for blindness had the serpent wise ; 
Man tried the plant ; and, trusting that his sight 
Might thus be healed, rejoiced to find him right." 

" Hac mansa serpens oculos caligine purgat ; 
Indeque compertum est humanis posse mederi 
Ilium hominibus : atque experiendo probatum est." 

Pliny also asserts that the ophidia, when they cast their 
skins, have recourse to this plant for restoring their 



sight. Others have averred that serpents wax young 
again by eating of the herb ; " Wherefore the use of it 
is very meet for aged folk." 

Fennel powder may be employed for making an eye- 
wash : half-a-teaspoonf ul infused in a wineglassf ul of cold 
water, and decanted when clear. A former physician to 
the Emperor of Germany saw a monk cured by his tutor 
in nine days of a cataract by only applying the roots of 
Fennel with the decoction to his eyes. 

In the Elizabethan age the herb was quoted as an 
emblem of flattery ; and Lily wrote, " Little things 
catch light minds ; and fancie is a worm that feedeth 
first upon Fennel." Again, Milton says, in Paradise 
Lost, Book XI : — 

<• The savoury odour blown, 
Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense 
Than smell of sweetest Fennel." 

Shakespeare makes the sister of Laertes say to the 
King, in Hamlet^ when wishing to prick the royal 
conscience, "There's Fennel for you." And FalstafF 
commends Poins thus, in Henry the Fourth, "He plays at 
quoits well, and eats conger, and Fennel." 

The Italians take blanched stalks of the cultivated Fen- 
nel (which they call Cartucci) as a salad ; and in Germany 
its seeds are added to bread as a condiment, much as we 
put caraways in some of our cakes. The leaves are 
eaten raw with pickled fish to correct its oily indigesti- 
bility. Evelyn says the peeled stalks, soft and white, 
when " dressed like salery," exercise a pleasant action 
conducive to sleep. Eoman bakers put the herb under 
their loaves in the oven to make the bread taste 

Chemically, the cultivated Fennel plant furnishes a vol- 
atile aromatic oil, a fixed fatty principle, sugar, and some 



starch in the root ; also a bitter resinous extract. It is 
an admirable corrective of flatulence ; and yields an 
essential oil, of Avhich from two to four drops taken on 
a lump of sugar will promptly relieve griping of the 
bowels with distension. Likewise a hot infusion, made by 
pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of 
the bruised seeds will comfort belly ache in the infant, if 
given in teaspoonful doses sweetened with sugar, and 
will prove an active remedy in promoting female 
monthly regularity, if taken at the periodical times, in 
doses of a wineglassful three times in the day. Gerard 
says, "The green leaves of the Fennel eaten, or the 
seed made into a ptisan, and drunk, do fill women's 
brestes with milk ; also the seed if drunk asswageath 
the wambling of the stomacke, and breaketh the winde." 
The essential oil corresponds in composition to that of 
anise, but contains a special camphoraceous body of its 
own ; whilst its vapour will cause the tears and the 
saliva to flow. A syrup prepared from the expressed 
juice was formerly given for chronic coughs. 

W. Coles teaches in Nature's Paradise, that " both the 
leaves, seeds, and roots, are much us .d in drinks and 
broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their 
unwieldinesse, and make them more gaunt and lank." 
The ancient Greek name of the herb, Marathron, 
from maraino, to grow thin, probably embodied the 
same notion. " In warm climates," said Matthiolus, 
"the stems are cut, and there exudes a resinous liquid, 
which is collected under the name of fennel gum." 

The Edinburgh Pluirmacopceia orders " Sweet Fennel 
seeds, combined with juniper berries and caraway seeds, 
for making with spirit of wine, the 'compound spirit of 
juniper,' which is noted for promoting a copious flow of 
urine in dropsy." The bruised plant, if applied exter- 



nally, will speedily relieve toothache or earache. This 
likewise proves of service as a poultice to resolve 
chronic swellings. Powdered Fennel is an ingredient 
in the modern laxative " compound liquorice powder " 
with senna. The flower, surrounded by its four leaves, 
is called in the South of England, " Devil in a bush." 
An old proverb of ours, which is still believed in New 
England, says, that " Sowing Fennel is sowing sorrow." 

A modern distilled water is now obtained from the 
cultivated plant, and dispensed by the druggist. The 
whole herb has been supposed to confer longevity, 
strength and courage. Longfellow wrote a poem about 
it to this effect. 

The fine-leaved Hemlock Water Dropwort {(Enanthe 
Phellandrium), is the Water Fennel. 


Only some few of our native Ferns are known to 
possess medicinal virtues, though they may all be 
happily pronounced devoid of poisonous or deleterious 
properties. As curative simples, a brief consideration 
will be given here to the common male and female 
Ferns, the Royal Fern, the Hart's Tongue, the Maiden- 
hair, the common Polypody, the Spleenwort, and the 
Wall Rue. Generically, the term " fern " has been 
referred to the word " feather," because of the pinnate 
leaves, or to fan; a bullock, from the use of the plants 
as litter for cattle. Ferns are termed Filices, from 
the Latin word jiln.m, a thread, because of their 
filamentary fronds. Each of those now particularized 
owes its respective usefulness chiefly to its tannin ; 
while the few more specially endowed with healing 
powers yield also a peculiar chemical acid "lilicic," which 
is fatal to worms. In an old charter, A.u. 855, the 



right of pasturage on the common Ferns was called 
" fearnleswe," or Fascaa p^^rcorum, the pasturage of 
swine (from fearrh, a pig). Matthiolus when writing 
of the ferns, male and female, says, Utriusqiie radice 
sues ])ingmscnnt. In some parts of England Ferns at 
large are known as " Devil's brushes " ; and to bite off 
close to the ground the first Fern which appears in the 
Spring, is said, in Cornwall, to cure toothache, and to 
prevent its return during the remainder of the year. 

The common Male Fern {Filix mas) or Shield Fern^ 
grows abundantly in all parts of Great Britain, and has 
been known from the times of Theophrastus and 
Dioscorides, as a specific remedy for intestinal worms, 
particularly the tape worm. For medicinal purposes^ 
the green part of the rhizome is kept and dried; this is 
then powdered, and its oleo-resin is extracted by ether. 
The green fixed oil thus obtained, which is poisonous to 
worms, consists of the glycerides of filocylic and filo- 
smylic acids, with tannin, starch, gum^ and sugar. The 
English oil of Male Fern is more reliable than that 
which is imported from the Continent. Twenty drops 
made into an emulsion with mucilage should be giveii 
every half-hour on an empty stomach, until sixty or 
eighty drops have been taken. It is imprudent to 
administer the full quantity in a single dose. The 
treatment should be thus pursued when the vigour of 
the parasite has been first reduced by a low diet for a 
couple of days, and is lying within the intestines free 
from alimentary matter ; a purgative being said to 
assist the action of the plant, though it is, independently,, 
quite efficacious. The knowledge of this remedy had 
become lost, until it was repurchased for fifteen thou- 
sand francs, in 1775, by the French king, under the 
advice of his principal physicians, from Madame Nouffer, 



a surgeon's widow in Switzerland, who employed it as 
ii secret mode of cure with infallible success. Her 
method consisted in giving from one to three drams of 
the powdered root, after using a clyster, and following 
the dose up with a purge of scammony and calomel. 
The rhizome should not be used medicinally if more 
than a 3'ear old. A medicinal tincture (H.) is now 
prepared from the root-stock with proof spirit, in the 
autumn when the fronds are dying. 

The young shoots and curled leaves of the Male Fern, 
which is distinguished by having one main rib, are 
sometimes eaten like asparagus ; whilst the fronds make 
an excellent litter for horses and cattle. The seed of 
this and some other species of Fern is so minute (one 
frond producing more than a million) as not to be visible 
to the naked eye. Hence, on the doctrine of signatures, 
the plant — like the ring of Gyges, found in a brazen 
horse — has been thought to confer invisibility. Thus 
Shakespeare says, Henry IV., Act H., Scene 1, "We 
have the receipt of Fern seed ; we walk invisible." 

Bracken or Brakes, which grows more freely than 
any other of the Fern tribe throughout England, is the 
Filix fcemina, or common Female Fern. The fronds of 
this are branched, whilst the male plant having only 
one main rib, is more powerful as an astringent, and 
antiseptic; "the powder thereof freely beaten healeth 
the galled necks of oxen and other cattell." Bracken is 
also named botanically, Fteris aquilina, because ihe 
figure which appears in its succulent stem when cut 
obliquely across at the base, has been thought to 
resemble a spread eagle; and, therefore, Linnaeus termed 
the Fern Aquilina. Some call it, for the same reason, 
" King Charles in the oak tree " ; and in Scotland the 
symbol is said to be an impression of the Devil's foot. 



Again, Avitches are reputed to detest this Fern, since 
it bears on its cut root the Greek letter X, which is 
the initial of Cliridos. 

In Ireland it is called the Fern of God, because of the 
belief that if the stem be cut into three sections, on the 
first of these will be seen the letter G ; on the second 
0 ; and on the third D. 

A-u old popular proverb says about this Bracken : — 

" When the Fern is as high as a spoon 
You may sleep an hour at noon, 
When the Fern is as high as a ladle 
You may sleep as long as you're able, 
When the Fern is looking red 
Milk is good with faire brown bread." 

The Bracken grows almost exclusively on Avaste 
places and uncultivated ground ; or, as Horace testified 
in Roman days, Negledis urenda filix iimascitur agris. It 
contains much potash ; and its ashes were formerly 
employed in the manufacture of soap. The young tops 
of the plant are boiled in Hampshire for hogs' food, and 
the peculiar flavour of Hampshire bacon has been attrib- 
uted to this custom. The root aff'ords much starch, and 
is used medicinally. "For thigh aches" [sciatica], says an 
old writer, "smoke the legs thoroughly with Fern braken."' 

During the Seventeenth Century it was customary to 
set growing Brakes on fire with the belief that this 
would produce rain. A like custom of " firing the 
Bracken " still prevails to-day on the Devonshire moors. 
By an official letter the Earl of Pembroke admonished 
the High Sherilf of Stafford to forbear the burning of 
Ferns during a visit of Charles I., as " His Majesty 
desired that the country and himself may enjoy fair 
weather as long as he should remain in those parts." 

In northern climates a coarse kind of bread is made 



from the roots of the Brake Fern ; whilst in the south 
the young shoots are often sold in bundles as a salad. 
(Some writers give the name of Lady Fern, not to 
the Bracken, but to the Aspleiiium filix fcemiiia, because 
of its delicate and graceful foliage.) The Bracken has 
branched riblets, and is more viscid, mucilaginous, and 
diuretic, than the Male Fern. 

Its ashes when burnt contain much vegetable alkali 
which has been used freely in making glass. 

It was customary to " watch the Fern " on Mid- 
summer eve, when the plant put forth at dusk a blue 
flower, and a wonderful seed at midnight, which was 
carefully collected, and known as " Avish seed." This 
gave the power to discover hidden treasures, whilst to 
drink the sap conferred perpetual youth. 

The Royal Fern (Osmiinda regalis), grows abundantly 
in many parts of Great Britain, and is the stateliest of 
Ferns in its favourite watery haunts. It needs a soil of 
bog earth, and is incorrectly styled " the flowering 
Fern," from its handsome spikes of fructification. One 
of its old English names is " Osmund, the Waterman " ; 
and the white centre of its root has been called the 
heart of Osmund. This middle part boiled in some kind 
of liquor was supposed good for persons wounded, dry- 
beaten, and bruised, or that have fallen from some high 
place. The name " Osmund " is thought to be derived 
from OS, the mouth, or os, bone, and mimdare, to 
cleanse, or from gross mond kraut, the Greater Moon- 
wort ; but others refer it to Saint Osmund wading a 
river, whilst bearing the Christ on his shoulders. The 
root or rhizome has a mucilaginous slightly bitter taste. 
The tender sprigs of the plant at their first coming are 
" good to be put into balmes, oyles, and healing 
plasters." Dodonoeus says, "the harte of the root of 



Osmonde is good against squattes, and bruises, heavie 
and grievous falles, and whatever hurte or dislocation 
soever it be." " A conserve of these buds," said Dr. Short 
of Sheffield, 1746, "is a specific in the rickets ; and the 
roots stamped in water or gin till the liquor becometh a 
stiff mucilage, has cured many most deplorable pains of 
the back, that have confined the distracted suff*erers 
close to bed for several weeks." This mucilage was to be 
rubbed over the vertebrse of the back each night and 
morning for five or six days together. Also for rickets, 
" take of the powdered roots with the whitest sugar, and 
sprinkle some thereof on the child's pap, and on all his 
liquid foods." " It maketh a noble remedy," said Dr. 
Bowles, " without any other medicine." The actual 
curative virtues of this Fern are most probably due to 
the salts of lime, potash, and other earths, which it 
derives in solution from the bog soil, and from the 
water in which it grows. On July 25th it is specially 
dedicated to St. Christopher, its patron saint. 

The Hart's Tongue or Hind's Tongue, is a Fern of 
common English growth in shady copses on moist 
banks, it being the Lingua cervina of the apothecaries, 
and its name expressing the shape of its fronds. This, 
the Scolopendrium vulgare, is also named " Button-hole," 
" Horse tongue," and in the Channel Islands " Godshair." 
The older physicians esteemed it as a verj^ valuable medi- 
cine ; and Gralen gave it for diarrhoea or dysentery. By 
reason of its tannin it will restrain bleedings, "being 
commended," says Gerard, "against the bloody flux.'' 
People in rural districts make an ointment from its 
leaves for burns and scalds. It was formerly, in com- 
pany with the common Maidenhair Fern, one of the 
five great capillary herbs. Dr. Tuthill Massy advises 
the drinking, in Bright's disease, of as much as three 



half-pints daily of an infusion of this Fern, whilst 
always taking care to gather the young shoots. Also, 
in combination (H.) with the American Golden 
Seal {Hijdrastis canadensis), the Hart's Tongue has 
served in nob a few authenticated cases to arrest the 
progress of that formidable disease, diabetes mellitus. 
Its distilled water will quiet any palpitations of the 
heart, and will stay the hiccough ; it will likewise help 
the falling of the palate (relaxed throat), or stop bleed- 
ing of the gums if the mouth be gargled therewith. 

From the Ophioglomun vidgatum, " Adder's tongue," 
or "Christ's Spear," when boiled in olive oil is produced 
a most excellent greene oyle, or rather a balsam for 
greene wounds, comparable to ojde of St. John's Wort, 
if it doth not far surpasse it." A preparation from this 
plant known as the " green oil of charity," is still in 
request as a vulnerary, and remedy for wounds. 

The true Maidenhair Fern {Adiantum capillns 
vsiieris), of exquisite foliage, and of a dark crimson 
colour, is a stranger in England, except in the West 
country. But we have in greater abundance the 
common Maidenhair (Asj)lenium trichomanes), which, grows 
on old walls, and which will act as a laxative medicine; 
whilst idiots are said to have taken it remedially, so as 
to recover their senses. The true Maidenhair is named 
Adiantum, from the Greek : Quod denso imhre cadente des- 
tillans foliis tenuis non insidet humor, " Because the 
leaves are not wetted even by a heavily falling shower 
of rain." " In vain," saith Pliny, "do you plunge the 
Adiantum into water, it always remains dry." This 
veracious plant doth " strengthen and embellish the 
hair." It occurs but rarely with us, on damp rocks, 
and walls near the sea. The Maidenhair is called 
Polytrichon because it brings forth a multitude of hairs ; 



Calitriclion because it produces black and faire hair ; 
Capillus veneris because it fosters grace and love. 

From its fine hairlike stems, and perhaps from its 
attributed virtues in toilet use, this Fern has acquired 
the name of " Our Lady's Hair " and " Maria's Fern." 
" The true Maidenhair," says Gerard, " maketh the 
hair of the head and beard to grow that is fallen and 
pulled off." From this graceful Fern a famous elegant 
syrup is made in France called Capillaire, which is given 
as a favourite medicine in pulmonary catarrh. It is 
flavoured with orange flowers, and acts as a demulcent 
with slightly stimulating effects. One part of the plant 
is gently boiled with ten parts of water, and with nine- 
teen parts of white sugar. Dr. Johnson says Boswell 
used to put Capillaire into his port wine, Sir John Hill 
instructed us that (as we cannot get the true Maidenhair 
fresh in England) the fine syrup made in France from 
their Fern in perfection, concocted with pure Narbonne 
honey, is not by any means to be thought a trifle, because 
barley water, sweetened with this, is one of the very best 
remedies for a violent cold. But a tea brewed from our 
more common Maidenhair will answer the same pur- 
pose for tedious coughs. Its leaves are sweet, muci- 
laginous, and expectorant, being, therefore, highly 
useful in many pulmonary disorders. 

The common Polypody Fern, or " rheum-purging 
Polypody " grows plentifully in this country on old 
walls and stumps of trees, in shady places. In Hamp- 
shire it is called " Adder's Tongue," as derived from 
the word attor, poison ; also Wall-fern, and formerly in 
Anglo-Saxon Ever-fern, or Boar-fern. In Germany it 
is said to have sprung from the Virgin's milk, and is 
named Marie hregue. The fresh root has been used 
successfully in decoction, or powdered, for melancholia ; 



also of late for general rheumatic swelling of the joints. 
By the ancients it was employed as a purgative. Six 
drachms by weight of the root should be infused for 
two hours in a pint of boiling water, and given in two 
doses. This is the Oak Fern of the herbalists, not that 
of modern botanists ( Polypodium drijopteris), it being 
held that such Fern plants as grew upon the roots of 
an oak tree were of special medicinal powers, Quod 
nascit super radices quercus est efficacins. The true Oak 
Fern {Dryopteris) grows chiefly in mountainous districts 
among the mossy roots of old oak trees, and sometimes 
in marshy places. If its root is bruised and applied to 
the skin of any hairy part, whilst the person is sweating, 
this will cause the hair to come away. Dioscorides said, 
" The root of Polypody is very good for chaps between 
the fingers." "It serveth," writes Gerard, "to make the 
belly soluble, being boiled in the broth of an old cock, 
with beets or mallows, or other like things, that move 
to the stool by their sliiDperiness." Parkinson says : " A 
dram or two, if need be, of the powdered dry roots taken 
fasting, in a cupful of honeyed water, worketh gently as 
a purge, being a safe medicine, fit for all persons and 
seasons, which daily experience confirmeth." " Applied 
also to the nose it cureth the disease called polypus, 
which by time and sufferance stoppeth the nostrils." 
The leaves of the Polypody when burnt furnish a large 
proportion of carbonate of Potash. 

The Spleenwort (Aspknium ceterach — an Arabian term), 
or Scaly Fern, or Finger Fern, grows on old walls, and in 
the clefts of moist rocks. It is also called " Miltwaste," 
because supposed to cure disorders of the milt, or 
spleen : — 

" The Finger Fern, which being given to swine, 
It makes their milt to melt away in fine." 



Very probably this reputed virtue has mainly become 
attributed to the plant, because the lobular milt-like shape 
of its leaf resembles the form of the spleen. "No herbe 
maie be compared therewith," says one of the oldest 
Herbals, " for his singular virtue to help the sicknesse 
or grief of the splene." Pliny ordered : "It should not be 
given to women, because it bringeth barrenness." Vitru- 
vius alleged that in Crete the flocks and herds were found 
to be Avithout spleens, because they browsed on this fern. 
The plant was supposed when given medicinally to 
diminish the size of the enlarged spleen or "ague-cake." 

The Wall Rue (Euta muraria) is a white Maiden- 
hair Fern, and is named by some Salvia vita'. It is a 
small herb, somewhat nearly of the colour of Garden 
Rue, and is likewise good for them that have a cough, 
or are shortwinded, or be troubled with stitches in the 
sides. It stayeth the falling or shedding of the hair, 
and causeth them to grow thick, fair, and well coloured. 
This plant is held by those of judgment and experience, 
to be as effectual a capillary herb as any whatever. 
Also, it helpeth ruptures in children. Matthiolus " hath 
known of divers holpen therein by taking the powder of 
the herb in drink for forty days together." Its leaves are 
like those of Rue, and the Fern has been called Tentwort 
from its use as a specific or sovereign remedy for the 
cure of rickets, a disease once known as " the taint." 

The generic appellations of the several species of 
Ferns are derived thus : Aspidium, from asjjis, a shield, 
because the spores are enclosed in bosses ; Fteris, from 
pteerux, a wing, having doubly pinnate fronds ; or from 
pteron, a feather, having feathery fronds ; Scolopend- 
rium, because the fructification is supposed to resemble 
the feet of Scolopendra, a genus of mydrapods ; and Fohj- 
p>ody, many footed, by reason of the pectinate fronds. 



There grows in Tarfcary a singular polypody Fern, of 
which the hairy root is easily made to simulate in form 
a small sheep. It rises above the ground with excres- 
cences resembling a head and tail, whilst having four 
leg-like fronds. Fabulous stories are told about this 
remarkable Fern root ; and in China its hairy down is 
so highly valued as a styptic for fresh bleeding cuts and 
wounds, that few families will be without it. Dr. 
Darwin, in his Lovei^ of the Plants, says about this curious 
natural production, the Pohjpodium Barometz : — 

" Cradled in snow, and fanned by Arctic air 
Shines, gentle Barometz, thy golden hair ; 
Rooted in earth each cloven hoof descends, 
And round and round her flexile neck she bends : 
Crops the green coral moss, and hoary thyme, 
Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime ; 
Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam, 
Or seems to bleat — a vegetable Lamb." 


The Feverfew is one of the wild Chamomiles ( Pyrethrwn 
Parthenium ), or Matricaria, so called because especially 
useful for motherhood. Its botanical names come from 
the Latin fehrifugus, putting fever to flight, smdparthenos, 
a virgin. The herb is a Composite plant, and grows in 
every hedgerow, with numerous small heads of yellow 
flowers, having outermost white rays, but with an 
upright stem ; whereas that of the true garden Chamo- 
mile is procumbent. The whole plant has a pungent 
odour, and is particularly disliked by bees. A double 
variety is cultivated in gardens for ornamental purposes. 

The herb Feverfew is strengthening to the stomach, 
preventing hysteria and promoting the monthly func- 
tions of women. It is much used by country mediciners, 
though insufficiently esteemed by the doctors of to-day. 



In Devonshire the plant is known as " Bachelor's 
buttons," and at Torquay as "Flirtwort," being also 
sometimes spoken of as "Feathyfew," or " FeatherfulL" 
Gerard says it may be used both in drinks, and 
bound on the wrists, as of singular virtue against the 

As " Feverfue," it was ordered, by the Magi of old, 
" to be pulled from the ground with the left hand, and 
the fevered patient's name must be spoken forth, and 
the herbarist must not look behind him." Country 
persons have long been accustomed to make curative 
uses of this herb very commonly, which grows abun- 
dantly throughout England. Its leaves are feather}^ 
and of a delicate green colour, being conspicuous even 
in mid-winter. Chemically, the Feverfew furnishes a 
blue volatile oil, containing a camphoraceous stearopten, 
and a liquid hydrocarbon, together with some tannin, 
and a bitter mucilage. 

The essential oil is medicinally useful for correcting 
female irregularities, as well as for obviating cold indi- 
gestion. The herb is also known as "Maydeweed," 
because useful against hysterical distempers, to which 
young women are subject. Taken generally it is a 
positive tonic to the digestive and nervous systems. 
Our chemists make a medicinal tincture of Feverfew, 
the dose of which is from ten to twenty drops, with a 
spoonful of water, three times a day. This tincture, if 
dabbed on the parts Avith a small sponge, will immedi- 
ately relieve the pain and swelling caused by bites of 
insects or vermin. In the official guide to Switzerland, 
directions are given to take "a little powder of the 
plant called Pyrethrum roseum, and make it into a paste 
with a few drops of spirit, then apply this to the hands 
and face, or any exposed part of the body, and let it 




dry : no mosquito or fly will then touch you." Or if 
two teaspoonfuls of the tincture are mixed with half a 
pint of cold water, and if all parts of the body likely to 
be exposed to the bites of insects are freely sponged 
therewith they will remain unassailed. Feverfew is mani- 
festly the progenitor of the true Chamomilla (Aidliemis 
nohilis), from which the highly useful Camomile "blows," 
so commonly employed in domestic medicine, are 
obtained, and its flowers, when dried, may be applied to 
the same purposes. An infusion of them made with boil- 
ing water and allowed to become cold, will allay any dis- 
tressing sensitiveness to pain in a highly nervous subject, 
and will afl'ord relief to the faceache or earache of a 
dyspeptic or rheumatic person. This Feverfew {Chnj- 
santJiemum partheniiLin), is best calculated to pacify those 
who are liable to sudden, spiteful, rude irascibility, 
of which they are conscious, but say they cannot help 
it, and to soothe fretful children. " Better is a dinner 
of such herbs, where love is, than a stalled ox, and 
hatred therewith." 


" In the name of the Prophet ' Figs ' " was the pompous 
utterance ascribed to Dr. Johnson, whose solemn magni- 
loquent style was simulated as Eastern cant applied to 
common business in Rejected Addresses, by the clever 
humorists, Horace and James Smith, 1812. The tree 
which produces this fruit belongs to the history of man- 
kind. In Paradise Adam partook of figs, and covered 
his nakedness with the leaves. 

Though indigenous to Western Asia, Figs have been 
cultivated in most countries from a remote period, and 
will ripen in England during a warm summer if screened 
from north-east winds. The figtree flourishes best with 



US on our sea coasts, bathed by the English Channel, 
by reason of the salt-laden atmosphere. Near Gosport, 
and at Fig Valleys, in the neighbourhood of Worthing, 
there are orchards of figtrees ; but they remain barren 
in this country as far as affording seed to be raised anew 
from the ripened fruit. The first figtrees introduced 
into England are still alive and productive in the gardens 
of the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth, having 
been planted there by Cardinal Pole in the time of 
Henry the Eighth. We call the Sunday before Easter 
"Fig Sunday," probably because of out Saviour's quest 
of the fruit when going from Bethany the next day. 

By the Jews a want of blossom on the Fig tree was 
considered a grievous calamity. On the Saturday 
preceding Palm Sunday (says Miss Baker), the market at 
Northampton is abundantly supplied with figs, and 
more of the fruit is purchased at this time than through- 
out the rest of the year. Even charity children are 
regaled in some parts with figs on the said Sunday ; 
whilst in Lancashire fig pies made of dried figs with 
sugar and treacle are eaten beforehand in Lent. 

Li order to become fertilised, figs (of which the 
sexual apparatus lies within the fruit) must have their 
outer skin perforated by certain gnats of the Cynips 
tribe, which then penetrate to the interior whilst 
carrying with them the fertilising pollen ; but these 
gnats are not found in this country. Producers of the 
fruit abroad bearing the said fact in view tie some of 
the wild fruit when tenanted by the Culex fly to the 
young cultivated figs. 

Foreign figs are dried in the oven so as to destroy the 
larvae of the Cynips insect, and are then compressed 
into small boxes. They consist in this state almost 
exclusively of mucilage and sugar. 



Only one kind of Fig comes to ripeness with us in 
England, the great blue Fig, as large as a Catherine 
pear. "It should be grown," says Gerard, "under a hot 
w^all, and eaten when newly gathered, with bread, 
pepper, and salt ; or it is excellent in tarts." This fruit 
is soft, easily digested, and corrective of strumous 
disease. Dried Turkey Figs, as imported, contain 
glucose (sugar), starch, fat, pectose, gum, albumen, 
mineral matter, cellulose, and water. They are used by 
our druggists as an ingredient in confection of senna for 
a gentle laxative effect. When split open, and applied 
as hot as they can be borne against gumboils, and similar 
suppurative gatherings, they afford ease, and promote 
maturation of the abscess ; and likewise they will help 
raw, unhealthy sores to heal. The first poultice of Figs 
on record is that employed by King Hezekiah 260 years 
before Christ, at the instance of the prophet Isaiah, 
who ordered to " take a lump of Figs ; and they took 
it, and laid it on the boil, and the King recovered" 
(2 Kings XX. 7). 

The Fig is said to have been the first fruit eaten as 
food by man. Among the Greeks it formed part of the 
ordinary Spartan fare, and the Athenians forbade 
exportation of the best Figs, which were highly valued 
at table. Informers against those who offended in this 
respect A\^ere called SuJco 'phantai, or Fig discoverers — 
our Sycophants. 

Bacchus was thought to have acquired his vigour and 
corpulency from eating Figs, such as the Eomans 
gave to professed wrestlers and champions for strength 
and good sustenance. 

Dodonoeus said concerning Figs, Alimentwn ampliiis 
quam cceteri pra'bent ; and Pliny spoke of them as the 
best restorative for those brought low by languishing 



disease, with loss of their colour. It was under the 
Perpul tree {Ficus religiosa) Buddha attained Nirvada, 

The botanical name ficus has been derived from the 
Greek verb phuo to generate, and the husbandry of Figs 
was called by the Latins " caprification." The little 
fig-bird of the Eoman Campagna pays a yearly visit in 
September to the fig orchards on our Sussex coast. 

When eaten raw, dried Figs prove somewhat aperient, 
and they are apt to make the mouth sore whilst 
masticating them. Their seeds operate mechanically 
against constipation, though sometimes irritating the 
lining membrane of the stomach and bowels. Grocers 
prepare from the pulp of these foreign dried figs, when 
mixed with honey, a jam called "figuine," which is 
wholesome, and will prevent costiveness if eaten at 
breakfast with bread. 

The pulp of Turkey Figs is mucilaginous, and has 
been long esteemed as a pectoral emollient for coughs : 
also when stewed and, added to ptisans, for catarrhal 
troubles of the air passages, and of other mucous 

In its fresh green state the fruit secretes a milky acrid 
juice, which will destroy warts; this afterwards becomes 
saccharine and oily. The dried Figs of the shops give 
no idea of the fresh fruit as enjoyed in Italy at break- 
fast, which then seem indeed a fruit of paradise, and 
which contain a considerable quantity of grape sugar. 
In the Regimen of the School of Salerne (eleventh century) 
we read : — 

" Scrofa, tumor, glandes, ficus cataplasma sedet, 
Swines' evil, swellings, kernels, a plaster of figs will heal." 

Barley water boiled with dried Figs (split open), 
liquorice root, and raisins, forms the compound decoction 
of barley prescribed by doctors as a capital demulcent ; 



and an admirable gargle for inflamed sore throat may be 
made by boiling two ounces of the Figs in half-a-pint of 
water, which is to be strained when cool. Figs cooked 
in milk make an excellent drink for costive persons. 

In the French codex a favourite pectoral medicine is 
composed of Figs, stoned dates, raisins, and jujubes. 

Formerly the poisoned Fig was used in Spain as a 
secret means for getting rid of an enemy. The fruit 
was so common there that to say "a fig for you ! " and 
"I give you the fig" became proverbial expressions of 
contempt. In fiocclii (in gala costome), is an Italian 
phrase which we now render as "in full fig." 

The JFater Flgworf, a common English plant which 
grows by the sides of ditches, and belongs to the scrofula- 
curing order, has acquired its name because supposed to 
heal sores in the fundament when applied like figs as a 
poultice. It further bears the name of IF •iter Betony (page 
50), under which title its curative excellence against 
piles, and for scrofulous glands in the neck has been 
already described. The whole plant, yielding its juice, 
may be blended with lard to be used as an ointment ; 
and an infusion of the roots, made with boiling water, 
an ounce to a pint, may be taken as a medicine — a 
wineglassful three times in the day. 

In Ireland it is known as " Rose noble," also as 
Kernelwort, because the kernels, or tubers attached to 
the roots have been thought to resemble scrofulous 
glands in the neck. " Divers do rashly teach that if it 
be hanged about the necke, or else carried about one it 
keepeth a man in health." In France the sobriquet 
herhe du seige, given to this plant, is said to have been 
derived from its famous use in healing all sorts of 
wounds during the long siege of Rochelle under Louis 



The Water Figwort may be readily known by the 
winged corners of its stems, which, though hollow and 
succulent, are rigid when dead, and prove very trouble- 
some to anglers. The flowers are much frequented by 
wasps : and the leaves are employed to correct the 
taste of senna. 

FLAG (Common). 

Our English water Flags are true whigs of the old 
school, and get their generic name because hanging out 
their banners respectively of dark blue and yellow. 

Each is also called Iris, as resembling the rainbow 
in beauty of colour. The land Flag (Iris versicolor) is 
well known as growing in swamps and moist meadows, 
with sword-shaped leaves, and large purple heads of 
flowers, bearing petals chiefly dark blue, and veined 
with green, yellow, or white. The water Flag (Iris 
l^seudacorus) is similar of growth, and equally well 
known by its brilliant heads of yellow flowers, with 
blade-like leaves, being found in wet places and water 
courses. The root of the Blue Flag, "Dragon Flower,'' or 
" Dagger Flower," contains chemically an " oleo-resin," 
which is purgative to the liver in material doses, and 
specially alleviative against bilious sickness when taken 
of much reduced strength by reason of its acting as a 
similar. The official dose of this "iridin" is from one 
to three grains. A liability to the formation of gall 
stones may be remedied by giving one grain of the oleo- 
resin (iridin) every night for twelve nights. 

A medicinal tincture (H.) is made which holds this 
Iris in solution ; and if three or four drops are taken 
immediately, with a spoonful of water, and the same 
dose is repeated in half-an-hour if still necessary, an 
attack of bilious vomiting, with sick headache, and a 



film before the eyes, will be prevented, or cut short. 
The remedy is, under such circumstances, a trustworthy 
substitute for calomel, or blue pill. Orris powder, 
which is so popular in the nursery, and for the toilet 
table with ladies, on account of its fresh "violet" scent, 
is made from the root of this Iris, being named from 
the genitive ireos. 

Louis VIL of France chose this Blue Flag as his 
heraldic emblem, and hence its name, flenr de hjs, has 
been subsequently borne on the arms of France. The 
fiower was said to have been figured on a shield sent 
down from heaven to King Louis at Clovis, when 
fighting against the Saracens. Fleu?' de Louis has 
become corrupted to fleur de lys, or flew de lis. 

The Purple Flag was formerly dedicated to the 
Virgin Mary. A certain knight more devout than 
learned could never remember more than two words of 
the Latin prayer addressed to the Holy Mother ; these 
were Ave Maria, which the good old man repeated day 
and night until he died. Then a plant of the blue L'is 
sprang up over his grave, displaying on every fiower in 
golden letters these words, Ave Maria. When the 
monks opened the tomb they found the root of the 
plant resting on the lips of the holy knight w^hose body 
lay buried below. 

The Yellow Flag, or Water Flag, is called in the 
north, "Seggs." Its flowers afford a beautiful yellow 
dye ; and its seeds, when roasted, can be used instead 
of cotfee. The juice of the root is very acrid when 
snitfed up the nostrils, and causes a copious flow of 
water therefrom, thus giving marked relief for obstinate 
congestive headache of a dull, passive sort. The root 
is very astringent, and will check diarrhoea by its 
infusion ; also it is of service for making ink. In the 



south of England the phmt is named "Levers." It 
contains much tannin. 

The "Stinking Flag," or "Gladdon," or "Roast Beef," 
because having the odour of this viand, is another 
British species of Flag, abundant in southern England, 
where it grows in woods and shady places. Its 
leaves, when bruised, emit a strong smell like that 
of carrion, which is very loathsome. The plant bears 
the appellations. Lis fogtidissima, Spatula fcetida, and 
" Spurge wort," having long, narrow leaves, which stink 
when rubbed. Country folk in Somersetshire purge 
themselves to good purpose with a decoction made from 
the root. The term "glad," or "smooth," refers to the 
surface of the leaves, or to their sword-like shape, from 
gladiolus (a small sword), and the plant bears flowers of 
a dull, livid purple, smaller than those of the other 

Lastly, there is the Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus)^ 
though this is not an Iris, but belongs botanically to 
the family of Arums. It grows on the edges of lakes and 
streams all over Europe, as a highly aromatic, reedy 
plant, with an erect flowering stem of yellowish green 
colour. Its name comes from the Greek, Jwree, or "pupil 
of the eye," because of its being used in ailments of that 

Calamus was the Roman term for a reed; and formerly 
this sweet Flag, by reason of its pleasant odour like that 
of violets, was freely strewn on the floor of a cathedral at 
times of church festivals, and in many private houses 
instead of rushes. The root is a powerful cordial against 
flatulence, and passive indigestion, with headache. It con- 
tains a volatile oil, and a bitter principle, " acorin ; " so 
that a fluid extract is made by the chemists, of which from 
thirty to forty drops may be given as a dose, with a 



tablespoonful of water, every half-hour for several 
consecutive times. The candied root is much emj^loyed 
for like uses in Turkey and India. It is sold as a 
favourite medicine in every Indian Bazaar ; and Ainslie 
says it is reckoned so valuable in the bowel complaints 
of children, that there is a penalty incurred by every 
druggist who will not open his door in the middle of the 
night to sell it if demanded. 

The root stocks are brought to this country from 
Germany, being used by mastication to clear the urine 
when it is thick and loaded with dyspeptic products ; 
also for flavouring beer, and scenting snufif'. 

Their ash contains potash, soda, zinc, phosphoric 
acid, silica, and peroxide of iron. In the Times April 
24th, 1856, Dr. Graves wrote commending for the 
soldiers when landing at Galipoli, and not able to obtain 
costly quinine, the Sweet Flag — acorns calamas — as their 
sheet anchor against ague and allied maladies arising 
from marsh miasmata. The infusion of the root should 
be given, or the powdered root in doses of from ten to 
sixty grains. {See Rushes.) 


The common Flax plant, from which we get our Linseed, 
is of great antiquity, dating from the twenty-third 
century before Christ, and having been cultivated in all 
countries down to the present time. But it is exhausting 
to the soil in England, and therefore not favoured in 
home growth for commercial uses. The seeds come to 
us chiefly from the Baltic. Nevertheless, the plant 
(Linum usitatissimum) is by no means uncommon in our 
cornfields, flowering in June, and ripening its seed in 
September. Provincially it is called " Lint " and " Lyne." 
A rustic proverb says " if put in the shoes it preserves 



from poverty " ; wherever found it is probably a,n escape 
from cultivation. 

The word "flax" is derived from filare, to spin, or, 
fihmi, a thread ; and the botanical title, linuin, is got 
from the Celtic lin also signifying thread. The fibres 
of the bark are separated from the woody matter by 
soaking it in water, and they then form tow, which is 
afterwards spun into yarn, and woven into cloth. This 
water becomes poisonous, so that Henry the Eighth 
prohibited the washing of flax in any running stream. 

The seeds are very rich in linseed oil, after expressing 
which, the refuse is oil-cake, a well-known fattening 
food for cattle. The oil exists chiefly in the outer skins 
of the seeds, and is easily extracted by boiling water, 
as in the making a linseed poultice. These seeds contain 
gum, acetic acid, acetate and muriate of potash, and 
other salts, with twenty-two parts per cent, of the oil. 
They were taken as food by the ancient Greeks and 
Romans, whilst Hippocrates knew the demulcent 
properties of linseed. An infusion of the seeds has long 
been given as Linseed tea for soothing a sore chest or 
throat in severe catarrh, or pulmonary complaints ; 
also the crushed seed is used for making poultices. 
Linseed oil has laxative properties, and forms, when 
mixed with lime water, or with spirit of turpentine, a 
capital external application to recent burns or scalds. 

Tumours of a simple nature, and sprains, may be 
usefully rubbed with Linseed oil ; and another principal 
service to which the oil is put is for mixing the paints 
of artists. To make Linseed tea, wash two ounces of 
Linseed by putting them into a small strainer, and 
pouring cold water through it ; then pare off as thinly 
as possible the yellow rind of half a lemon ; to the 
Linseed and lemon rind add a quart of cold water, 



and allow tliem to simmer over the fire for an hour- 
and-a-lialf ; strain away the seeds, and to each half-pint 
of the tea add a teaspoonful of sugar, or sugar candy, 
with some lemon juice, in the proportion of the juice 
of one lemon to each pint of tea. 

The seeds afford but little actual nourishment, and 
are difficult of digestion ; they provoke troublesome 
flatulence, though sometimes used fraudulently for 
adulterating pepper. Flax seed has been mixed with 
corn for making bread, but it proved indigestible and 
hurtful to the stomach. In the sixteenth century 
during a scarcity of wheat, the inhabitants of Middle- 
burgh had recourse to Linseed for making cakes, but the 
death of many citizens was caused thereby, it bringing 
about in those who partook of the cakes dreadful 
swellings on the body and face. There is an Act of 
Parliament still in force which forbids the steeping 
of Flax in rivers, or any waters which cattle are 
accustomed to drink, as it is found to communicate 
a poison destructive to cattle, and to the fish inhabiting 
such waters. In Dundee a hank of yarn is worn round 
the loins as a cure for lumbago, and girls may be seen 
with a single thread of yarn round the head as an 
infallible specific for tic douloureux. 

The Purging Flax (Linum catharticum), or Mill 
Mountain (Kamailinon), or Ground Flax, is a variety 
of the Flax common on our heaths and pastures, 
being called also Fairy Flax from its delicacy, and 
Dwarf Flax. It contains a resinous, purgative principle, 
and is known to country folk as a safe, active purge. 
They infuse the herb in water, which they afterwards 
take medicinally Also a tincture is made (H.) from 
the entire fresh plant, which may be given curatively 
for frequent, watery, painless diarrhoea, two or three 



drops for a dose v^ith water every hour or two until 
the flux is stayed. 


The purple Foxglove {Digitalis pt?;/9iwm) which every 
one knows and admires for its long graceful spikes of 
elegant bell-shaped brilliant blossoms seen in our woods 
and hedges, is also called the Thimble Flower, or the 
Finger Flower, from the resemblance of these blossoms 
to a thimble or to the fingers of a glove. The word 
digitalis refers likewise to the digits, or fingers of a 
gauntlet. In France the title is Gants de Notre Dame, 
the gloves of our Lady the Virgin. Some writers give 
Folks' Glove, or Fairies' Glove as the proper English 
orthography, but this is wrong. Our name of the plant 
comes really from the Anglo-Saxon, Foxesglew or Fox 
music, in allusion to an ancient musical instrument 
composed of bells which were hanging from an arched 
support, a iintinnahidurn, which this plant with its 
pendent bell shaped flowers so exactly represents. 

In Ireland the Foxglove is known as the Great Herb, 
and Lusmore, also the Fairy Cap ; and in Wales it is the 
Goblin's Gloves ; whilst in the North of Scotland it is the 
Dead men's Bells. We read in the Ladg of the Lake 
there grew by Loch Katrine \~ — 

" Night shade and Foxglove side by side, 
Emblems of punishment and pride.'' 

In Devonshire the plant is termed Poppy, because when 
one of the bell-shaped flowers is inflated by the breath 
whilst the top edges are held firmly together, the wind 
bag thus formed, if struck smartly against the other 
hand, goes off with a sounding pop. The peasantry also 
call it " Flop a dock." Strangely enough, the Foxglove, 
so handsome and striking in a landscape, is not men- 



tioned by Shakespeare, or by either of the old English 
poets. The " long purples " of Shakespeare refers to 
the orchis mascula. 

Chemically, the Foxglove contains a dangerous, 
active, medicinal principle digikdin, which acts power- 
fully on the heart, and on the kidneys, but this should 
never be given in any preparation of the plant except 
under medical guidance, and then only with much 
caution. Parkinson speaks highly of the bruised herb, 
or of its expressed juice, for scrofulous swellings when 
applied outwardly in the form of an ointment. An 
officinal tincture is made from the plants collected in 
the spring, when two years old ; also, in some villages 
the infusion is employed as a homely remedy to cure a 
cold, the herb being known as " Throttle Wort ; " but 
this is not a safe thing to do, for medical experience 
shows that the watery infusion of Foxglove acts much 
more powerfully than the spirituous tincture, which is 
eight times stronger, and from this fact it may fairly be 
inferred that the presence of alcohol, as in the tincture, 
directly opposes the specific action of the plant. This 
herb bears further in some districts the names " Flop 
Top," " Cow Flop," and " Flabby Dock." It was stated 
in the Times Telescope, 1822, " the women of the poorer 
class in Derbyshire used to indulge in copious draughts 
of Foxglove tea, as a cheap means of obtaining the 
pleasures of intoxication. This was found to produce a 
great exhilaration of the spirits, with other singular effects 
on the system. So true is the maxim, ubi virus, ibi virtus. 

No animal will touch the plant, which is biennial, and 
will only develop its active principle digitalin, when 
getting some sunshine, but remains inert when grown 
altogether in the shade. Therefore its source of produc- 
tion for medicinal purposes is very important. 




The common Fumitory {Fumaria officinalis) is a small 
grey-green plant, bearing well known little flowers, rose 
coloured, and tipped with purple, whilst standing erect 
in every cornfield, vineyard, or such-like manured place 
throughout Great Britain. It is so named from the 
Latin fumus terrce, earth smoke, which refers either to the 
appearance of its pretty glaucous foliage on a dewy 
summer morning, or to the belief that it was produced not 
from seed but from vapours rising out of the earth. The 
plant continues to flower throughout the year, and was 
formerly much favoured for making cosmetic washes to 
purify the skin of rustic maidens in the spring time : - - 

"Whose red and purpled mottled flowers 
Are cropped hj maids in weeding hours 

To boil in water, milk, or whey, 
For washes on a holiday ; 

To make their beauty fair and sleek, 

And scare the tan from summer's cheek." 

In many parts of Kent the Fumitory bears the name 
of " Wax Dolls," because its rose coloured flowers, with 
their little, dark, purple heads, are by no means unlike 
the small waxen toys given as nurslings to children. 

Dioscorides affirmed : " The juice of Fumitory, of that 
which groweth among barley, with gum arable, doth 
take away unprofitable hairs that prick, being first 
plucked away, for it will not suff*er others to grow in 
their places." " It helpeth," says Gerard, " in the 
summer time those that are troubled with scabs." 

Pliny said it is named because causing the eyes to 
water as smoke does. In Shakespeare the name is 
written Fumiter. It continues to flower throughout the 
year, and its presence is thought to indicate good deep 
rich land. There is also a " ramping " Fumitory 


{capreolata) which climbs ; being found likewise in fields 
;ind waste places, but its infusion produces purgative 

The whole plant has a saline, bitter, and somewhat 
acrid taste. It contains "fumaric acid," and the alkaloid 
"fumarina," which are specially useful for scrofulous 
diseases of the skin. A decoction of the herb makes a 
curative lotion for the milk-crust which disfigures the 
scalp of an infant, and for grown up persons troubled 
with chronic eruptions on the face, or freckles. 

The fresh juice may be given as a medicine ; or an 
infusion made with an ounce of the plant to a pint of 
boiling water, one wineglassful for a dose twice or three 
times in the day. 

By the ancients Fumitory was named Capnos, smoke : 
Pliny wrote " Claritatem facit inundis ocuUs delachrij- 
mationemque, ecu fumus, uncle nomev." They esteemed 
the herb specially useful for dispelling dimness of the 
sight, and for curing other infirmities of the eyes. 

The leaves, which have no particular odour, throw up 
crystals of nitre on their surface when cool. The juice 
may be mixed with whey, and taken as a common drink, 
or as a medicinal beverage for curing obstinate skin 
eruptions, and for overcoming obstructions of the liver 
and digestive organs. Dr. Cullen found it most useful 
in leprous skin disease. The juice from the fresh herb 
may be given two ounces in the day, but the virtues 
remain equally in the dried plant. Its smoke was said 
by the ancient exorcists to have the power of expelling 
evil spirits. The famous physician, John of Milan, 
extolled Fumitory as a sovereign remedy against malar- 
ious fever. 

It is a remarkable fact, that the colour of the hair and 
the complexion seem to determine the liability, or 



Otherwise, of a European to West Coast fever in Africa. 
A man with harsh, bright-coloured red hair, such as is 
common in Scotland, has a complete immunity, though 
running the same risks as another man, dark and with 
a dry skin, who seems absolutely doomed. A red- 
haired European will, as a rule, keep his health where 
even the natives are attacked. Old negresses have secret 
methods of cure which can, undoubtedly, save life even 
in' cases which have become hopeless to European 
medical science. 


Seeming at first sight out of place among the lilies 
of the field, yet Garlic, the Leek, and the Onion are true 
members of that noble order, and may be correctly 
classified together with the favoured tribe, "Clothed more 
grandly than Solomon in all his glory." They possess 
alike the same properties and characteristics, though in 
varying degrees, and they severally belong to the genus 
Allium, each containing "allyl," which is a radical rich 
in sulphur. 

The homely Onion may be taken first as the best 
illustration of the family. This is named technically 
Allium cejxc, from cep, a head (of bunched florets which 
it bears). Lucilius called it FleUle cmpe, because the 
pungency of its odour will provoke a flow of tears from 
the eyes. As Shakespeare says, in Taming of the 
Shrew : — 

" Mine eyes smell onions ; 
I shall weep anon." 

The Egyptians were devoted to Onions, which they 
ate more than two thousand years before the time of 
Christ. They were given to swear by the Onion and 




Garlic in their gardens. Herodotus tells us that during 
the building of the pyramids nine tons of gold were 
spent in buying onions for the workmen. But it is to 
be noted that in Egypt the Onion is sweet and soft; 
whereas, in other countries it grows hard, and nauseous, 
and strong. 

By the Greeks this bulb was called Krommuon, " apo 
tou Meuein tas kora^,'' because of shutting the eyes when 
eating it. In Latin its name unio, signified a single 
root without offsets. 

Raw Onions contain an acrid volatile oil, sulphur, 
phosphorus, alkaline earthy salts, phosphoric and acetic 
acids, with phosphate and citrate of lime, starch, free 
uncrystallized sugar, and lignine. The fresh juice is 
colourless, but by exposure to the air becomes red. A 
syrup made from the juice with honey is an excellent 
medicine for old phlegmatic persons in cold weather, 
when their lungs are stuffed, and the breathing is 

Raw Onions increase the flow of urine, and promote 
perspiration, insomuch, that a diet of them, with bread, 
has many a time cured dropsy coming on through a chill 
at first, or from exposure to cold. They contain the 
volatile principle, "sulphide of allyl," which is acrid 
and stimulating. If taken in small quantities. Onions 
quicken the circulation, and assist digestion ; but when 
eaten more prodigally they disagree. 

In making curative Simples, the Onion (and Garlic) 
should not be boiled, else the volatile essential oil, on 
which its virtues chiefly depend, will escape during the 

The principal internal efi'ects of the Onion, the Leek, 
and Garlic, are stimulation and warmth, so that they 
are of more salutary use when the subject is of a cold 



temperament, and when the vital powers are feeble, 
than when the body is feverish, and the constitution 
ardently excitable. " They be naught," says Gerard, 
" for those that be cholericke ; but good for such as are 
replete with raw and phlegmatick humors." Foiis tons 
qui etes (/ros, et gras, et hjmpliatiqiies, avec Vestomac paresseux, 
incmgez roigmii cm ; cest pour vous que le hon Dieu Va fait. 

Onions, when eaten at night by those who are not 
feverish, v.^ill promote sleep, and induce perspiration. 
The late Frank Buckland confirmed this statement. He 
said, " I am sure the essential oil of Onions has soporific 
powers. In my own case it never fails. If I am much 
pressed with work, and feel that I am not disposed to 
sleep, I eat two or three small Onions, and the effect is 
magical." The Onion has a very sensitive organism, and 
absorbs all morbid matter that comes in its way. During 
our last epidemic of cholera it puzzled the sanitary 
inspectors of a northern town why the tenants of one 
cottage in an infected row were not touched by the 
plague. At last some one noticed a net of onions 
hanging in the fortunate house, and on examination all 
these proved to have become diseased. But whilst 
welcoming this protective quality, the danger must be 
remembered of eating an onion which shows signs of 
decay, for it cannot be told what may have caused this 

When sliced, and applied externally, the raw Onion 
serves by its pungent and essential oil to quicken the 
circulation, and to redden the skin of the particular 
surface treated in this way ; very usefully so in the case 
of an unbroken chilblain, or to counteract neuralgic 
pain ; but in its crude state the bulb is not emollient or 
demulcent. If employed as a poultice for ear-ache, or 
broken chilblains, the Onion should be roasted, so as to 



modify its acrid oil. When there is a constant and 
painful discharge of fetid matter from the ear, or where 
an abscess is threatened, with pain, heat, and swelling, 
a hot poultice of roasted Onions will be found very 
useful, and will mitigate the pain. The juice of a sliced 
raw Onion is alkaline, and will quickly relieve the acid 
venom of a sting from a wasp, or bee, if applied 
immediately to the part. 

A tincture is made (H.) from large, red, strong 
Onions for medicinal purposes. As a warming expec- 
torant in chronic bronchitis, or asthma, or for a cold 
which is not of a feverish character, from half to one 
teaspoonful of this tincture may be given with benefit 
three or four times in the day in a wineglassful of hot 
water, or hot milk. Likewise, a jorum {i.e., an earthen 
bowl) of hot Onion broth taken at bed time, serves 
admirably to soothe the air passages, and to promote 
perspiration, after the first feverish stage of catarrh or 
influenza has passed by. To make this, peel a large 
Spanish Onion, and divide it into four parts; then put 
them into a saucepan, with half a saltspoonful of salt, 
and two ounces of butter, and a pint of cold water; let 
them simmer gently until quite tender ; next pour all 
into a bowl which has been made hot, dredging a little 
pepper over ; and let the porridge be eaten as hot as it 
can be taken. 

The allyl and sulphur in the bulbs, together 
with their mucilaginous parts, relieve the sore raucous 
membranes, and quicken perspiration, whilst other 
medicinal virtues are exercised at the same time on the 
animal economy. 

By eating a few raw parsley sprigs immediately 
afterwards, the strong smell which onions communicates 
to the breath may be removed and dispelled. Lord 


Bacon averred " the rose will be sweeter if planted in a 
bed of onions." So nutritious does the Highlander find 
this vegetable, that, if having a few raw bulbs in his 
pocket, Avith oat-cake, or a crust of bread, he can 
travel for two or three days together without any other 
food. Dean Swift said : — 

"This is every cook's opinion, 
No savoury dish without an onion, 
But lest your kissing should be spoiled, 
Your onions must be fully boiled." 

Provings have been made by medical experts of the 
ordinary red Onion in order to ascertain what its toxical 
effects are when pushed to an excessive degree, and it 
has been found that Onions, Leeks, or Garlic, when 
taken immoderately, induce melancholy and depression, 
with severe catarrh. They dispose to sopor, lethargy, 
and even insanity. The immediate symptoms are 
extreme watering of the eyes after frequent sneezing, 
confusion of the head, and heavy defluxion from the 
nose, with pains in the throat extending to the ears ; in 
a word, all the accompaniments of a bad cold, sneezings, 
lacrj^mation, pains in the forehead, and a hoarse, hacking 
cough. These being the effects of taking Onions in a 
harmful quantity, it is easy to understand that when 
the like morbid symptoms have arisen spontaneously 
from other causes, as from a sharp catarrh of the head 
and chest, then modified forms of the Onion are calcu- 
lated to counteract them on the law of similars, so that 
a cure is promptly produced. On which principle the 
Onion porridge is a scientific remedy, as food, and as 
physic, during the first progress of a catarrhal attack ; 
{ind pari jMssu the medicinal tincture of the red Onion 
may be likewise curatively given. 



Spanish Onions, which are imported into this country 
in the winter, are sweet and mucilaginous. A peasant 
in Spain will munch an onion just as an English labourer 
eats an apple. 

At the present day Egyptians take onions, roasted, 
and each cut into four pieces, with small bits of baked 
meat, and slices of an acid apple, which the Turks call 
kehobs. With this sweet and savoury dish they are so 
delighted, that they trust to enjoy it in paradise. The 
Israelites were willing to return to slavery and brick- 
making for their love of the Onion ; and we read that 
Hecamedes presented some of the bulbs to Patrochus, 
1.1 Homer, as a regala. These are supplied liberally to 
the antelopes and giraffes in our Zoological Gardens, 
which animals dote on the Onion. 

A clever para23hrase of the word Onion may be read 
in the lines : — 

"Charge! Stanley, charge ! On! Stanley, on ! 
Were the last words of Marmion. 
If I had been in Stanley's place 
When Marmion urged him to the chase, 
In me you quickly would descry 
What draws a tear from many an eye." 

For chilblains apply onions with salt pounded to- 
gether, and for inflamed or protruding piles, raw Onion 
pulp, made by bruising the bulb, if kept bound to the 
parts by a compress, and renewed as needed, will afTord 
certain relief. 

The Garlic {Allium sativum), Skorodon of the Greeks, 
which was first cultivated in English gardens in 1540, 
takes its name from gar, a spear ; and leac, a plant, 
either because of its sharp tapering leaves, or perhaps as 
" the war plant," by reason of its nutritive and stimula- 
ting qualities for those who do battle. It is known also 



to many as "Poor-man's Treacle," or "Churls Treacle," 
from being regarded by rustics as a treacle, or antidote 
to the bite of any venomous reptile. 

The bulb, consisting of several combined cloves, is 
stimulating, antispasmodic, expectorant, and diuretic. 
Its active properties depend on an essential oil which 
may be readily obtained by distillation. A medicinal 
tincture is made (H.) with spirit of wine, of which 
from ten to twenty drops may be taken in water 
several times a day. Garlic proves useful in asthma, 
whooping-cough, and other spasmodic affections of the 
chest. For an adult, one or more cloves may be eaten 
at a time. The odour of the bulb is very diffusible, 
even when it is applied to the soles of the feet its odour 
is exhaled by the lungs. 

When bruised and mixed with lard, it makes a most 
useful opodeldoc to be rubbed in for irritable spines or 
indolent scrofulous tumours or gout, until the skin 
surface becomes red and glowing. If employed thus over 
the chest (back and front) of a child with whooping- 
cough, it proves eminently helpful. 

Raw Garlic, when applied to the skin, reddens it, and 
the odour sniffed into the nostrils will revive an hyster- 
ical sufferer. It formed the principal ingredient in the 
"Four thieves' vinegar," which was adopted so suc- 
cessfully at Marseilles for protection against the plague, 
when prevailing there. This originated with four 
thieves, who confessed that, whilst protected by the 
liberal use of aromatic vinegar during the plague, they 
plundered the dead bodies of its victims with complete 
security. Or, according to another explanation of the 
name, an old tract, printed in 1749, testifies that one, 
Richard Forthave, who lived in Bishopsgate Street, 
invented and sold a vinegar which had such a run that 



he soon grew famous, and that his surname became 
thus corrupted in the course of time. 

But long before the plague at Marseilles (1722) 
vinegar was employed as a disinfectant. With Car- 
dinal Wolsey it was a constant custom to carry in his 
hand an orange emptied of its pulp, and containing a 
sponge soaked in vinegar made aromatic with spices, 
so as to protect himself from infection when passing 
through the crowds which his splendour and his office 

It is related that during a former outbreak of infectious 
fever in Somer's Town and St. Giles's, the French priests, 
who constantly used Garlic in all their dishes, visited the 
worst cases in the dirtiest hovels Avith impunity, while 
the English clergy, who were similarly engaged, but who 
did not eat onions in like fashion, caught the infection 
in many instances, and fell victims to the disease. 

For toothache and earache, a clove of Garlic stripped 
of its skin, and cut in the form of a suppository, if 
thrust in the ear of the aching side, will soon assuage 
the pain. If introduced into the lower bowel, it will 
help to destroy thread worms, and when swallowed it 
abolishes round worms. 

As a condiment. Garlic undoubtedly aids digestion by 
stimulating the circulation, Avith a consequent increase 
of saliva and gastric juice. The juice from the bulbs 
can be employed for cementing broken glass or china, 
by means of its mucilage. 

Dr. Bowles, a noted English physician of former 
times, made use of Garlic with much success as a 
secret remedy for asthma, He concocted a preserve 
from the boiled cloves with vinegar and sugar, to be 
kept in an earthen jar. The dose was a bulb or two 
with some of the syrup, each morning when fasting. 


The pain of rheumatic parts may be much relieved by 
simply rubbing them with cut Garlic. 

Garlic emits the most acrimonious smell of all the 
onion tribe. When leprosy prevailed in this country, 
Garlic was a prime specific for its relief, and as the 
victims had to "pil," or peel their own garlic, they were 
nicknamed " Pil Garlics," and hence it came about that 
anyone shunned like a leper had this epithet applied 
to him. Stow says, concerning a man growing old : 
" He will soon be a peeled garlic like myself." 

The strong penetrating odour and taste of this 
plant, though offensive to most English palates, are 
much relished by Eussians, Poles, and Spaniards, and 
especially by the Jews. But the Greeks detested 
Garlic. It is true the Attic husbandmen ate it from 
remote times, probably in part to drive away by its 
odour venomous creatures from assailing them ; but 
persons who partook of it were not allowed to enter the 
temples of Gybele, says Athenaeus ; and so hated was 
garlic, that to have to eat it was a punishment for those 
that had committed the most horrid crimes. Horace, 
among the Romans, was made ill by eating garlic at the 
table of Maecenas ; and afterwards (in his third Epode) 
he reviled the plant as, CiciUis allium nocentius, " Garlic 
more poisonous than hemlock." Sir Theodore Martin 
has thus spiritedly translated the passage : — 

'* If his old father's throat any impious sinner, 
Has cut with unnatural hand to the bone, 
Give him garlick— more noxious than hemlock — at dinner; 
Ye gods ! what strong stomachs the reapers must own! " 

The singular property is attributed to Garlic, that if 
a morsel of the bulb is chewed by a man running a race, 
it will prevent his competitors from getting ahead of 
him. Hungarian jockeys sometimes fasten a clove of 



garlic to the bits of their racers ; and it is said that the 
horses which run against those thus baited, fall back 
the moment they smell the offensive odour. If a leg of 
mutton, before being roasted, has a small clove of Garlic 
inserted into the knuckle, and the joint is afterwards 
served with haricot beans (soaked for twenty-four hours 
before being boiled), it is rendered doubly delicious. In 
Greece snails dressed with Garlic are now a favourite 

A well known chef is said to have chewed a small 
clove of Garlic when he wished to impart its delicate 
flavour to a choice plat, over which he then breathed 
lightly. Dumas relates that the whole atmosphere of 
Provence is impregnated with the perfume of Garlic, 
and is exceedingly wholesome to inhale. 

As an instance of lunar influences (which undoubtedly 
affect our bodily welfare), it is remarkable that if Garlic 
is planted when the moon is in the full, the bulb will 
be round like an onion, instead of being composed, as 
it usually is, of several distinct cloves. 

Homer says it was to the virtues of the Yellow Garlic 
(Moly ?) Ulysses owed his escape from being changed by 
Circe into a pig, like each of his companions. 

The Crow Garlic, vinecde, and the purple striped, 
'/leraceum, grow wild in this country. When the former 
of these is eaten by birds it so stupefies them that they 
may be taken with the hand. 

Concerning the cure of nervous headache by Garlic 
(and its kindred medicinal hevh A safoetida), an old charm 
reads thus: — 

" Give onyons to Saynt Cutlake, 
And Garlycke to Saynt Cyryake ; 
If ye will shun the headake, 

Ye shall have them at Queenhyth." 


The Asafoetida {Ferula Asafmtida) grows in Western 
Thibet, and exudes a gum which is used medicinally, 
coming as a milky juice from the incised root and soon 
coagulating ; it is then exported, having a very power- 
ful odour of garlic which may be perceived a long 
distance away. Phosphorus and sulphur are among 
its constituent elements, and, because of the latter, says 
Dr. Garrod after much observation, he regards Asafoetida 
as one of the most valuable remedies known to the 
physician. From three to five grains of the gum in a 
pill, or half-a-teaspoonful of the tincture, with a small 
wineglassful of warm milk, may be given for a dose. 

Some of the older writers esteemed it highly as an 
aromatic flavouring spice, and termed it cihus deorum, 
food of the gods. John Evelyn says (in his Acetaria) 
" the ancient Silphium thought by many to be none 
other than the fetid asa, was so highly prized for its 
taste and virtues, that it was dedicated to Apollo at 
Delphi, and stamped upon African coins as a sacred 

Aristophanes extolled its juice as a restorer of mascu- 
line vigour, and the Indians at this day sauce their 
viands with it. Nor are some of our skilful cooks 
ignorant how to condite it, with the applause of those 
who are unaware of the secret. The Silphium, or laser- 
pitmm of the Romans, yielded what was a famous 
restorative, the " Cyrenaic juice." Pareira tells us he 
was assured by a noted gourmet that the finest relish 
which a beef steak can possess, may be communicated 
to it by rubbing the gridiron on which the steak is 
to be cooked, with Asafoetida. 

The gum when given in moderate doses, acts on all 
parts of the body as a wholesome stimulant, leading 
among other good results, to improvement of the vision. 



and enlivening the spirits. But its use is apt to produce 
eructations smacking of garlic, which may persist for 
several hours ; and, if it be given in over doses, the 
effects are headache and giddiness. When suitably 
administered, it quickens the appetite and improves the 
digestion, chiefly with those of a cold temperament, and 
languid habit. Smollet says the Romans stuffed their 
fowls for the table with Asafoetida. In Germany, 
Sweden, and Italy, it is known as " Devil's Dung." 

The Leek {Allium porrium) bears an Anglo-Saxon 
name corrupted from Porleac, and it is also called the 
Porret, having been the Prason of the Greeks. It 
was first made use of in England during 1562. 
This was a food of the poor in ancient Egypt, as 
is shown by an inscription on one of the Pyramids, 
whence was derived the phrase, "to eat the Leek"; and 
its loss was bewailed by the Israelites in their journey 
through the Desert. It was said by the Romans to be 
prolific of virtue, because Latona, the mother of Apollo, 
longed after leeks. The Welsh, who take them much, 
are observed to be very fruitful. They dedicate these 
plants to St. David, on whose day, March 1st, in 640, 
the Britons (who were known to each other by display- 
ing in their caps, at the inspiration of St. David, some 
leeks, " the fairest emblym that is worne," plucked in a 
garden near the field of action) gained a complete victory 
over the Saxons. 

The bulb contains some sulphur, and is, in its raw 
state, a stimulating expectorant. Its juice acts ener- 
getically on the kidneys, and dissolves the calculous 
formations of earthy phosphates which frequently form 
in the bladder. 

For chilblains, chapped hands, and sore eyes, the 
juice of a leek squeezed out, and mixed with cream, 



has been found curative. Old Tusser tells us, in his 

Husbandry for March : — 

"Now leeks are in season, for pottage full good, 
That spareth the milch cow, and purgeth the blood." 

and a trite proverb of former times bids us : — 

" Eat leeks in Lide [March] and ramsons in May, 
Then all the year after physicians can play." 

Ramsons, or the Wild Garlic {Allium ursinum). is 
broad leaved, and grows abundantly on our moist 
meadow banks, with a strong smell of onions when 
crushed or bruised. It is perennial, having egg-shaped 
or lance-like leaves, whilst bearing large, pearly-white 
blossoms with acute petals. The name is the plural of 
"Ramse," or "Ram," which signifies strong-smelling, or 
rank. And the plant is also called "Buck Rams," or 
" Buck Rampe," in allusion to its spadix or spa the. 
"The leaves of Ramsons," says Gerard, "are stamped 
and eaten with lish, even as we do eat greene sauce 
made with sorrell." This is " Bear's Garlic," and the 
Star Flower of florists. 

Leeks were so highly esteemed by the Emperor 
Nero, that his subjects gave him the sobriquet of 
" Porrophagus." He took them with oil for several 
days in each month to clear his voice, eating no bread 
on those days. Uii remede d'Empereur ( Neron ) pour se 
deharrasser dhm rhume, — et de commhe pour attendre le 
meme hut — fut envelopper un oignon dans une feuille de chou 
et le faire cuire sous la cendre ; puis Vecrasser, le reduire en 
pulpe, le mettre dans tine tasse de lait, ou une decoction 
chaude de redisse ; se coucher ; et se tenir chaudemenf, au 
hesoin rccidiver matin et soir. 

The Scotch leek is more hardy and pungent than that 



grown in England. It was formerly a favourite ingre- 
dient in the Cock-a-Leekie soup of Caledonia, which is 
so graphically described by Sir Walter Scott, in the 
Fortunes of Nigel. 

A " Herby " pie, peculiar to Cornwall, is made of 
leeks and pilchards, or of nettles, pepper cress, parsley, 
mustard, and spinach, with thin slices of pork. At the 
bottom of the Squab pie mentioned before was a Squab, 
or young Cormorant, " which diffused," says Charles 
Kingsley, "through the pie, and through the ambient air, 
a delicate odour of mingled guano and polecat." That 
" lovers live by love, as larks by leeks," is an old 
saying ; and in the classic story of Pyramus and 
Thisbe, reference is made to the beautiful emerald 
green which the leaves of the leek exhibit. " His 
eyes were as green as leeks." Among the Welsh 
farmers, it is a neighbourly custom to attend on a 
certain day and plough the land of a poor proprietor 
whose means are limited — each bringing with him one 
or more leeks for making the soup or broth. 

The Schalot, or Eschalotte, is another variety of the 
onion tribe, which was introduced into England by the 
Crusaders, who found it growing at Ascalon. And 
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are an ever green perennial 
herb of the onion tribe, having only a mild, alliaceous 
flavour. Epicures consider the Schalot to be the best 
seasoning for beef steaks, either by taking the actual 
bulb, or by rubbing the plates therewith. 

Again, as a most common plant in all our hedge- 
rows, is found the Poor Man's Garlic, or Sauce-alone 
{ErisymiLin alliaria), from enw, to cure, a somewhat 
coarse and most ordinary member of the onion tribe, 
which goes also by the names of " Jack by the hedge " 
and " Garlick-wort," and belongs to the cruciferous order 



of plants. When bruised, it gives out a strong smell 
of garlic, and when eaten by cows it makes their milk 
taste powerfully of onions. The Ancients, says John 
Evelyn, used " Jack by the hedge " as a succedaneum 
to their Scordium, or cultivated Garlic. 

This herb grows luxuriantly, bearing green, shining, 
heart-shaped leaves, and headpieces of small, white- 
flowering bunches. It was named " Saucealone," from 
being eaten in the Springtime with meat, whilst 
having so strong a flavour of onions, that it served 
alone of itself for sauce. Perhaps (says Dr. Prior) the 
title " Jack by the hedge " is derived from "jack," or 

jakes," an old English word denoting a privy, or house 
of office, and this in allusion to the fetid smell of the 
plant, and the usual place of its growth. 

When gathered and eaten with boiled mutton, after 
having been first separately boiled, it makes an excellent 
vegetable, if picked as it approaches the flowering 
state. Formerly this herb was highly valued as an 
antiscorbutic, and was thought a most desirable pot 

(The Erysimum officinale (Hedge Mustard) and the 
Vervain (Verbena) make Count Mattcei's empirical nos- 
trum Fehrifugo : but this Erysimum is not the same 
plant as the Jack by the hedge.) 


The Gooseberry {Ribes grossularia) gets its name from 
krilshar, which signifies a cross, in allusion to the triple 
spine of the fruit or berry, which is commonly cruciform. 
This is a relic of its first floral days, preserved like 
the apron of the blacksmith at Persia, when he came to 
the throne. The term grossularia implies a resemblance 
of the fruit to grossuli, small unripe figs. 


Frequently the shrub, which belongs to the same 
natural order as the Currant (Bibes), grows wild in the 
hedges and thickets of our Eastern counties, bearing 
then only a small, poor berry, and not supposed to be 
of native origin. 

In East Anglia it is named Fabe, Feap, Thape, or 
Theab berry, probably by reason of a mistake which 
arose through an incorrect picture. The Melon, in a 
well-known book of Tabernaemontanus, was figured to 
look like a large gooseberry, and was headed, Pfehe. 
And this name was supposed by some wiseacre to be 
that of the gooseberry, and thus became attached to 
the said fruit. Loudon thinks it signifies Feverberry, 
because of the cooling properties possessed by the 
gooseberry, which is scarcely probable. 

In Norfolk, the green, unripe fruit is called Thape, 
and the schoolboys in that county well know Thape pie, 
made from green Gooseberries. The French call the 
fruit Groseille, and the Scotch, Grosert. It contains, 
chemically, citric acid, pectose, gum, sugar, cellulose, 
albumen, mineral matter, and water. The quantity of 
llesh-forming constituents is insignificant. Its pectose, 
under heat, makes a capital jelly. 

In this country, the Gooseberry was first cultivated at 
the time of the Eeformation, and it grows better in 
Great Britain than elsewhere, because of the moist 
climate. The original fruit occurred of the hairy sort, 
like Esau, as the Uva crispa of Fuschius, in Henry the 
Eighth's reign ; and there are now red, white, and 
yellow cultivated varieties of the berry. 

When green and unripe. Gooseberries are employed 
in a sauce, together with bechamel, and aromatic spices, 
this being taken with mackerel and other rich fish, as an 
acid corrective condiment. Also, from the juice of the 



green fruit, "which cureth all inflammations," may be 
concocted an excellent vinegar. 

Gooseberry-fool, which comes to our tables so accept- 
ably in early summer, consists of the unripe fruit 
fouU (that is, crushed or beaten up) with cream and 
milk. Similarly the French have a fouU des pommes, and 
a foule des raisins. To " play old Gooseberry " with 
another man's property is conjectured to mean smash- 
ing it up, and reducing it, as it were, to Gooseberry- 

The young and tender leaves of the shrub, if eaten 
raw in a salad, drive forth the gravel. And from the 
red Gooseberry may be prepared an excellent light jelly, 
which is beneficial for sedentary, plethoric, and bilious 
subjects. This variety of the fruit, whether hairy or 
smooth, is grown largely in Scotland, but in France it is 
little cared for. 

The yellow Gooseberry is richer and more vinous of 
taste, suiting admirably, when of the smooth sort, for 
making Gooseberry wine; which is choice, sparkling, and 
wholesome, such as that wherewith Goldsmith's popular 
Ficar of JVahefield used to regale Farmer Flamborough 
and the blind piper, having "lost neither the recipe nor 
the reputation." They were soothed in return by the 
touching ballads of Johnny Armstrong'' s Last Good Night, 
and Gruel Barbara Allen. 

Gooseberry Shows are held annually in Lancashire, 
and excite keen competition ; but after exhibition, the 
successful berries are "topped and tailed," so as to dis- 
qualify them from being shown elsewhere. Southey, in 
The Doctor, speaks about an obituary notice in a former 
Manchester newspaper, of a man who "bore a severe 
illness with Christian fortitude, and was much esteemed 
among Gooseberry growers." Prizes are given for the 




biggest and heaviest berries, which are produced with 
immense pains as to manuring, and the growth of cool 
chickweed around the roots of the bushes. At the same 
time each promising berry is kept submerged in a 
shallow vessel of water placed beneath it so as to compel 
absorption of moisture, and thus to enlarge its size. 
Whimsical names, such as " Golden Lion," " The Jolly 
Angler," and " Crown Bob," etc., are bestowed on the 
prize fruit. Cuttings from the parent plant of a prize 
Gooseberry become in great request ; and thus the 
pedigree scions of a single bush have been known to 
yield as much as thirty-two pounds sterling to their 
possessor. The Gooseberry Book is a regular Manchester 

A berry weighing as heavy as thirty-seven penny- 
weight has been exhibited ; and a story is told of a 
Middleton weaver, who, when a thunder-storm was 
gathering, lay awake as if for his life, and at the first 
patter of rain against the window panes, rushed to the 
rescue of his Gooseberry bushes with his bed quilt. 
Green Gooseberries will help to abate the strange 
longings which sometimes beset pregnant women. 

In Devon the rustics call Gooseberries " Deberries," 
and in Sussex they are familiarly known to village lads 
as Goosegogs. 

An Irish cure for warts is to prick them with a 
Gooseberry thorn passed through a wedding ring. 

By some subtle bodily action wrought through a 
suggestion made to the mind, warts undoubtedly dis- 
appear as the result of this and many another equally 
trivial proceeding; which being so, why not the 
more serious skin affections, and larger morbid 
growths ? 

The poet South ey wrote a Pindaric Ode upon a Gooseberry 



Pie, beginning " Gooseberry Pie is best," with the 
refrain : — 

" And didst thou scratch thy tender arms, 
Oh, Jane ! that I should dine " ? 


Among Curative Simples, the Goosefoot, or Chenopod 
order of British plants, contributes two useful herbs, the 
Chenopodium bonus Henricus (Good King Henry), and the 
Chenopodiiim vnlvaria (Stinking Goosefoot). 

This tribe derives its distinctive title from the Greek 
words, cheen, a goose, and pons, a foot, in allusion to the 
resemblance borne by its leaves to the webbed members 
of that waddling bird which raw recruits are wont to 
bless for their irksome drill of the goose-step. Inci- 
dentally, it may be said that goosegrease, got from 
the roasted bird, is highly emollient, and very useful in 
clysters ; it also proves easily emetic. 

The Goosefoot herbs are common weeds in most 
temperate climates, and grow chiefly in salt marshes, or 
on the sea-shore. Other plants of this tribe are esculent 
vegetables, as the Spinach, Beet, and Orach. They all 
afford "soda" in abundance. 

The Good King Henry (Goosefoot) grows abundantly in 
waste places near villages, being a dark green, succulent 
plant, about a foot high, with thickish arrow-shaped 
leaves, which are cooked as spinach, especially in Lincoln- 
shire. It is sometimes called Blite, from the Greek 
hliton, insipid ; and, as Evelyn says, in his Acetaria, " it 
is well named, being insipid enough." 

Why the said Goosefoot has been named "Good King 
Henry," or, "Good King Harry," is a disputed point. 
A French writer declares " this humble plant which grows 
on our plains without culture will confer a more lasting 



duration on the memory of Henri Quafre than the statue 
of bronze placed on the Pont Neuf, though fenced with 
iron, and guarded by soldiers." Dodoeus says the 
appellation was given to distinguish the plant from 
another, a poisonous one, called Mains Henricus, "Bad 
Henry." Other authors have referred it to our Harry 
the Eighth, and his sore legs, for which the leaves were 
applied as a remedy ; but this idea does not seem of 
probable correctness. Frowde tells us "the constant 
irritation of his festering legs made his terrible temper 
still more dreadful. Warned of his approaching dis- 
solution, and consumed with the death-thirst, he called 
for a cup of white wine, and, turning to one of his 
attendants, cried, ' All is lost ! ' — and these were his last 
words." The substantive title, Henricus, is more likely 
derived from " heinrich," an elf or goblin, as indicating- 
certain magical virtues in the herb. 

It is further known as English Marquery, or Mercury, 
and Tola bona, or, Allgood, the latter from a conceit of 
the rustics that it will cure all hurts ; " wherefore the 
leaves are now a constant plaster among them for every 
green wound." It bears small flowers of sepals only, 
and is grown by cottagers as a pot herb. The young 
shoots peeled and boiled may be eaten as asparagus, and 
are gently laxative. The leaves are often made into 
broth, being applied also externally by country folk to 
heal old ulcers: and the roots are given to sheep having 
a cough. 

Both here and in Germany this Goosefoot is used for 
feeding poultry, and it has hence acquired the sobriquet 
of Fat-hen. 

The term, English Mercury, has been given because 
of its excellent remedial qualities against indigestion, 
and bears out the proverb : "Be thou sick or whole, put 



Mercury in thy koole." Poultices made from the herb 
are applied to cleanse and heal chronic sores, which, as 
Gerard teaches, "they do scoui" and mundify." Certain 
writers associate it with our good King Henry the Sixth. 

There is made in America, from an allied plant, the 
oak-leaved Goosefoot {Cheno2Jodium glaucum), or from the 
aphis which infests it, a medicinal tincture used for 
expelling round worms. 

The Stinking Goosefoot, called therefore, Vulvaria, and 
Garosmus, grows often on roadsides in England, and is 
known as Dog's Orach. It is of a dull, glaucous, or grey- 
ish-green aspect, and invested Avith a greasy mealiness 
which when touched exhales a very odious and enduring- 
smell like that of stale salt fish, this being par- 
ticularly attractive to dogs, though swine refuse the 
plant. It has been found very useful in hysteria, 
the leaves being made into a conserve with sugar ; 
or Dr. Fuller's famous Eleduarium hystericum may 
be compounded by adding forty-eight drops of oil 
of amber {Oleum succini) to four ounces of the con- 
serve. Then a piece of the size of a chestnut should be 
taken when needed, and repeated more or less often as 
required. It further promotes the monthly flow of 
women. But the herb is possessed odoris virosi intolerahilis, 
of a stink which remains long on the hands after 
touching it. The whole plant is sprinkled over with 
the white, pellucid meal, and contains much " trimethy- 
lamine," together with osmazome, and nitrate of potash ; 
also it gives off free ammonia. The title. Orach, given 
to the Stinking Goosefoot, a simple of a " most ancient, 
fish-like smell," and to others of the same tribe, is a 
corruption of aurum, gold, because their seeds were 
supposed to cure the ailment known popularly as the 
" yellow jaundice." These plants afford no nutriment, 



and, therefore, each bears the name, atrijplex — a, not, 
trephein, to nourish : — 

" Atriplicem tritum cum nitro, melle, et aceto 
Dicunt appositum calidum sedare podagram 
Ictericis dicitque Galenus tollere morbum 
Illius semen cum vino ssepius haustum." 

" With vinegar, honey, and salt, the Orach 
Made hot, and applied, cures a gouty attack ; 
Whilst its seeds for the jaundice, if mingled with wine, 
— As Galen has said — are a remedy fine." 

"Orach is cooling," writes Evelyn, "and allays the 
pituit humors." "Being set over the fire, neither this 
nor the lettuce needs any other water than their own 
moisture to boil them in." The Orach hails from Tartary, 
and is much esteemed in France. It was introduced 
about 1548. 


"Goosey, goosey, gander, whither do ye wander ?" says 
an old nursery rhyme by way of warning to the silly 
waddling birds not to venture into hedgerows, else will 
they become helplessly fettered by the tough, straggling 
coils of the Clivers, Goosegrass, or, HedgeherifF, growing 
so freely there, and a sad despoiler of feathers. 

The medicinal Goosegrass (Galium aparine), which is 
a highly useful curative Simple, springs up luxuriantly 
about fields and waste places in most English districts. 
It belongs to the Kubiaceous order of plants, all of which 
have a root like madder, affording a red dye. This hardy 
Goosegrass climbs courageously by its slender, hairy 
stems through the dense vegetation of our hedges into 
open daylight, having sharp, serrated leaves, and pro- 
ducing small white flowers, "pearking on the tops of 
the sprigs." It is one of the Bedstraw tribe, and bears 



a number of popular titles, such as Cleavers, Clithers, 
Robin run in the grass, Burweed, Loveman, Gooseherriff, 
Mutton chops, Clite, Glide, Glitheren, and Goosebill, from 
the sharp, serrated leaves, like the rough-edged mandibles 
of a goose. 

Its stalks and leaves are covered with little hooked 
bristles, which attach themselves to passing objects, and 
by which it fastens itself in a ladder-like manner to 
adjacent shrubs, so as to push its way upwards in the 

Goosegrass has obtained the sobriquet of Beggar's lice, 
from clinging closely to the garments of passers by, as 
well as because the small burs resemble these disgusting 
vermin ; again it is known to some as HarrifF, or, ErrifF, 
from the Anglo-Saxon "hedge rife," a taxgather, or 
robber, because it plucks the wool from the sheep as 
they pass through a hedge ; also Grip-grass, Gatchweed, 
and Scratchweed. Furthermore, this Bedstraw has 
been called Goose-grease, from a mistaken belief 
that obstructive ailments of geese can be cured there- 
with. It is really a fact that goslings are extremely 
fond of the herb. 

The botanical name, Aparine, bears the same meaning, 
being derived from the Greek verb, apairo, to lay hold 
of. The generic term, Galium, comes from the Greek 
word gala, milk, which the herb was formerly employed 
to curdle, instead of rennet. 

The flowers of this Bedstraw bloom towards August, 
about the time of the Feast of the Annunciation, and a 
legend says they first burst into blossom at the birth of 
our Saviour. Bedstraw is, according to some, a corrup- 
tion of Beadstraw. It is certain that Irish peasant girls 
often repeat their "aves" from the round seeds of the Bed- 
straw, using them for beads in the absence of a rosary ; 



and hence, perhaps, has been derived the name our 
Lady's Be(a)d straw. But straw (so called from the Latin 
sterno, to strew, or, scatter about) was formerly employed 
as bedding, even by ladies of rank : whence came the 
expression of a woman recently confined being "in the 
straw." Children style the Galium Aparine Whip tongue, 
and Tongue-bleed, making use of it in play to draw 
blood from their tongues. 

This herb has a special curative reputation with 
reference to cancerous growths and allied tumours. For 
open cancers an ointment is made from the leaves and 
stems wherewith to dress the ulcerated parts, and at the 
same time the expressed juice of the plant is given 
internally. Dr. Tuthill Massy avers that it often pro- 
duces a cure in from six to twelve months, and advises 
that the decoction shall be drank regularly afterwards 
in the Springtime. 

Dr. Qninlan, at St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, 
successfully employed poultices made with the fresh 
juice, and applied three times in the day, to heal 
chronic ulcers on the legs. Its effects, he says, in the 
most unlikely cases, were decisive and plain to all. 

He gave directions that whilst a bundle of ten or 
twelve stalks is grasped with the left hand, this bundle 
should be cut into pieces of about half-an-inch long, by 
a pair of scissors held in the right hand. The segments 
are then to be bruised thoroughly in a mortar, and 
applied in the mass as a poultice beneath a bandage. 

Dr. Thornton, in his excellent Herbal (1810), says: 
"After some eminent surgeons had failed, he ordered 
the juice ox Cleavers, mixed with linseed, to be applied 
to the breast, in cases of supposed cancer of that part, 
with a teaspoonful of the juice to be taken every night 
and morning whilst fasting ; by which plan, after a short 



time, he dispersed very frightful tumours in the 

The herb is found, on analysis, to contain three 
distinct acids — the tannic acid (of galls), the citric acid 
(of lemons), and the special rubichloric acid of the plant. 

"In cancer," says Dr. Boyce, "five fluid ounces of the 
fresh juice of the plant are to be taken twice a day, 
whilst constantly applying the bruised leaves, or their 
ointment, to the sore." 

Some of our leading druggists now furnish curative 
preparations made from the fresh herb. These include 
the succus, or juice, to be swallowed ; the decoction, to 
be applied as a lotion ; and the ointment, for curative 
external use. Both in England and elsewhere the juice 
of this Goosegrass constitutes one of the Spring juices 
taken by country people for scorbutic complaints. And 
not only for cancerous disease, but for many other foul, 
illconditioned ulcers, whether scrofulous or of the scurvy 
nature, this Goosegrass has proved itself of the utmost 
service, its external application being at all times greatly 
assisted by the internal use of the juice, or of a decoction 
made from the whole herb. 

By reason of its acid nature, this Galium is astringent, 
and therefore of service in some bleedings, as well as in 
diarrhoea, and for obesity. 

Gerard writes: "The herb, stamped with swine's 
grease, wasteth away the kernels by the throat; and 
women do usually make pottage of Cleavers with a little 
mutton and oatmeal, to cause leanness, and to keep them 
from fatness." Dioscorides reported that : " Shepherds 
do use the herb to take hairs out of the milk, if any 
remain therein." 

Considered generally, the Galmm cqmHne exercises 
acid, astringent, and diuretic eff*ects, whilst it is of 



special value against epilepsy, and cancerous sores, as 
already declared ; being curative likewise of psoriasis, 
eczema, lepra, and other cutaneous diseases. The dose 
of the authorised officinal juice is from one to two tea- 
spoonfuls, and from five to twenty grains of the pre- 
pared extract. 

The title Galium borne by Bedstraws has been 
derived from the Greek gala, milk, because they all 
possess to some extent the power of curdling milk when 
added to it. Similarly the appellation " Cheese rennet," 
or, Cheese running (from gerinnen, to coagulate), is given 
to these plants. Highlanders make special use of 
the common Yellow Bedstraw for this purpose, and to 
colour their cheese. 

From the Yellow Bedstraw (Galium verum), which is 
abundant on dry banks chiefly near the sea, and which 
may be known by its diminutive, puffy stems, and its 
small golden flowers, closely clustered together in dense 
panicles, "an ointment," says Gerard, "is prepared, 
which is good for anointing the weary traveller." 

Because of its bright yellow blossoms, this herb is also 
named "Maid's hair," resembling the loose, unsnooded, 
golden hair of maidens. In Henry VUI's reign 
"maydens did wear silken callis to keep in order 
their hayre made yellow with dye." For a like reason 
the Yellow Bedstraw has become known as "Petty 
mugget," from the French j)etit muguet, a little dandy, 
as applied in ridicule to effeminate young men, the 
Jemmy Jessamies, or "mashers" of the period. Old 
herbalists affirmed that the root of this same Bedstraw, 
if drunk in wine, stimulates amorous desires, and that 
the flowers, if long smelt at, will produce a similar 

This is, par excellence, the Bedstraw of our Lady, who 



gave birth to her son, says the legend, in a stable, with 
nothing but wild flowers for the bedding. 

Thus, in the old Latin hymn, she sings right 
sweetly : — 

" Lectum stravi tibi soli : dormi, nate bellule ! 
Stravi lectum fcBno molli : dormi, mi animule ! 
Ne quid desit sternam rosis : sternam foenum violis, 
Pavimentum hyacinthis; et prsesepe liliis." 

** Sleep, sweet little babe, on the bed I have spread thee ; 
Sleep, fond little life, on the straw scattered o'er ! 
'Mid the petals of roses, and pansies I've laid thee, 
In crib of white lilies; blue bells on the floor." 


A PASSING word should certainly be given to the Gout- 
weed, or, Goatweed, among Herbal Simples. It is, 
though but little regarded, nevertheless, a common and 
troublesome garden weed, of the Umbelliferous tribe, 
and thought to possess certain curative virtues. 
Botanically it is the (Egojpoclium j^odagmria, signifying, 
by the first of these names, Goatsfoot, and by the 
second, a specific power against gout. The plant is also 
known as Herb Gerard, because dedicated to St. Gerard, 
who was formerly invoked to cure gout, against which 
this herb was employed. Also it has been named Ash- 
weed, wild Master-wort, and Gout-wort. The herb 
grows about a foot high, with white flowers in umbels, 
having large, thrice-ternate, aromatic leaves, and a 
creeping root. These leaves are sometimes boiled, and 
eaten, but they possess a strong, disagreeable flavour. 
Culpeper says : " It is not to be supposed that Gout- 
weed hath its name for nothing; but upon experiment 
to heal the gout, and sciatica ; as also joint aches, 
and other cold griefs ; the very bearing it about one 



easeth the pains of the gout, and defends him that 
bears it from diseased Hill recommends the root and 
fresh buds of the leaves as excellent in fomentations 
and poultices for pains ; and the leaves, when boiled 
soft, together with the roots, for application about the 
hip in sciatica. 

No chemical analysis of the Goutweed is yet on 

" Herbe Gerard groweth of itself in gardens without 
setting, or sowing; and is so fruitful in his increase that 
where once it hath taken root, it will hardly be gotten 
out again, spoiling and getting every yeere more ground 
— -to the annoying of better herbes." 

GRAPES (see also VINE). 

Grapes, the luscious and refreshing fruit of the Vine, 
possess certain medicinal properties and virtues which 
give them a proper place among Herbal Simples. The 
name Vine comes from riere, to twist, being applied with 
reference to the twining habits of the parent stock ; as 
likewise to " with," and " withy." 

The fruit consists of pulp, stones, and skin. Within 
the pulp is contained the grape sugar, which differs in 
some respects chemically from cane sugar, and which 
is taken up straightway into our circulation when eaten, 
without having to be changed slowly by the saliva, as is 
the case with cane sugar. Therefore it happens that the 
grape sugar warms and fattens speedily, with a quick 
repair of waste, when the strength and the structures 
are consumed by fever, Grapes then being most grateful 
to the suHerer. But they do not suit inflammatory 
subjects at other times, or gouty persons at any time, 
as well as cane sugar, which has to undergo slower 
chemical conversion before it furnishes heat and sus- 



tenance. And in this respect, grape sugar closely 
resembles the glucose, or sweet principle of honey. 

The fruit also contains a certain quantity of " fruit 
sugar," which is chemically identical with cane suga^'; 
and, because of the special syrupy juice of its pulp, the 
Grape adapts itself to quick alcoholic fermentation. 

The important ingredients of Grapes are sugar (grape 
and fruit), gum, tannin, bitartrate of potash, sulphate 
of potash, tartrate of lime, magnesia, alum, iron, 
chlorides of potassium and sodium, tartaric, citric, 
racemic, and malic acids, some albumen, and azotized 
matters, with water. 

But the wine grower is glad to see his must deposit 
the greater part of these chemical ingredients in the 
" tartar," a product much disliked, and therefore named 
Sal Tartaric or Hell Salt; and Ciemor Tartari, Hell 
Scum (Cream of Tartar). 

In Italy, the vine furnishes oil as well as wine, this 
being extracted from the grape stones, and reckoned 
superior to any other sort, whether for the table or for 
purposes of lighting. It has no odour, and burns 
without smoke. The stones also yield volatile 
essences, which are developed by crushing, and which 
give bouquet to the several wines, whilst the skin 
affords colouring matter and tannin, of more or less 

Grapes supply but little actual nutritious matter for 
building up the solid structures of the body ; they act 
as gentle laxatives ; though their stones, and the leaves 
of the vine, are astringent. These latter were formerly 
employed to stop bleedings, and when dried and pow- 
dered, for arresting dysentery in cattle. 

In Egypt the leaves are used, when young and tender, 
for enveloping balls of hashed meat, at good tables. The 



sap of the vine, named lacryma, " a tear," is an excellent 
application to weak eyes, and for specs of the cornea. 
The juice of the unripe fruit, which is verjuice (as well 
as that of the wild crabapple), was much esteemed by 
the ancients, and is still in good repute for applying to 
bruises and sprains. 

When taken in any quantity. Grapes act freely on the 
kidneys, and promote a flow of urine. The vegetable 
acids of the fruit become used up as such, and 
are neutralised in the system by combining with the 
earthy salts found therein, and they pass off in the 
urine as alkaline carbonates. With full-blooded, 
excitable persons, grapes in any quantity are apt to 
produce palpitation, and to quicken the circulation for 
a time. Also with persons of slow and feeble energies, 
having a languid digestion (and especially if predisposed 
to acid fermentation in the stomach). Grapes are apt to 
disagree. They send their glucose straightway into the 
circulation combined with acids found in the stomach, 
and create considerable distress of heartburn and 
dyspepsia. "Thus," says Dr. King Chambers, "is 
generated acidity of the stomach, parent of gout, and of 
all its hideous crew." Likewise wine, especially if sweet, 
new, or full-bodied, when taken by such persons at a 
meal, is absorbed but slowly by the stomach, and much 
of the sugar, with some alcohol, becomes converted by 
fermentation into acetic acid, which further causes the 
oily ingredients in the food which has been swallowed 
to turn rancid. "Things sweet to taste prove to 
digestion sour." But otherwise, with a person in 
good health, and not given to gout or rheumatism, 
Grapes are an excellent food for supplying warmth as 
combustion material, by their ready-made sugar ; whilst 
the essential flavours of the fruit are cordial, and 



whilst a surplus of the glucose serves to form fat for 

What is known as the Grape-cure, is pursued in the 
Tyrol, in Bavaria, on the banks of the Ehine, and else- 
where — the sick person being ordered to eat from three 
to six pounds of grapes a day. But the relative pro- 
portions of the sugar and acids in the various kinds of 
grapes have important practical bearings on the results 
obtained, determining whether wholesome purgation 
shall follow, or whether tonic and fattening effects shall 
be produced. In the former case, sufferers from sluggish 
liver and torpid biliary functions, with passive local 
congestions, will benefit most by taking the grapes not 
fully ripe, and not completely sweet ; whilst in the 
latter instance, those invalids will gain special help from 
ripe and sweet grapes, who require quick supplies of 
animal heat and support to resist rapid waste of tissue, 
as in chronic catarrh of the lungs, or mucous catarrh of 
the bowels. 

The most important constituent to be determined is 
the quantity of grape sugar, which varies according to 
the greater or less warmth of the climate. Tokay Grapes 
are the sweetest ; next are those of southern France ; 
then of Moselle, Bohemia, and Heidelberg; whilst the 
fruit of the Vine in Spain, Italy, and Madeira, is not 
commended for curative purposes. The Grapes are 
eaten three, four, or five times a day, during the 
promenade ; those which are not sweet produce a 
diuretic and laxative effect ; seeing, moreover, that 
their reaction is alkaline, the " cure " thereby is 
particularly suitable for persons troubled with gravel 
and acid gout. 

After losses of blood, and in allied states of exhaustion^ 
the restorative powers of the grape-cure are often 



strikingly exhibited. Formerly, the German doctors 
kept their patients, when under this mode of treatment, 
almost entirely without other food. But it is now 
found that light, wholesome nourishment, properly 
chosen, and taken at regular times, even with some 
moderate allowance of Bordeaux wine, may be permitted 
in useful conjunction with the grapes. Children do not, 
as a rule, bear the grape-cure well. One sort of grape, 
the Bourdelas, or Yerjus, being intensely sour when 
green, is never allowed to ripen, but its large berries 
are made to yield their acid liquor for use instead of 
vinegar or lemon juice, in sauces, drinks, and medicinal 

A vinegar poultice, applied cold, is an effectual 
remedy for sprains and bruises, and will arrest the 
progress of scrofulous enlargements of bones. It may 
be made with vinegar and oatmeal, or with the addition 
of bread crumb." — Fharmacopoeia Chirurgica^ 1794. 

" Other fruits may please the palate equally well, but 
it is the proud prerogative of the kingly grape to 
minister also to the mind." This served to provide one 
of the earliest offerings to the Deity, seeing that 
" Bread and wine were brought forth to Abraham by 
Melchisedec, the Priest of the Most High God." 

The Vine {Vitis vim/era) was almost always to the 
front in the designs drawn by the ancients. Thus, 
miniatures and dainty little pictures were originally 
encircled with representations of its foliage, and we still 
name such small exquisite illustrations, " vignettes," 
from the French word, vigne. 

The large family of Muscat grapes get their dis- 
tinctive title not because of any flavour of musk 
attached to them, but because the sweet berries are 
particularly attractive to flies (muscce), a reason which 



induced the Komans to name this variety, Vitis apiaria. 
" On attmpe plus de mouches avec le miel qu' avec le 
vinaigre " — say the French. 

In Portugal, grape juice is boiled down with quinces 
into a sort of jam — the progenitor of all marmalades. 

The original grape vine is supposed to have been 
indigenous to the shores of the Caspian Sea. 

If eaten to excess, especially by young persons, grapes 
will make the tongue and the lining membrane of the 
mouth sore, just as honey often acts. For this reason, 
both grapes and honey do good to the affection known 
as thrush, with sore raw mouth, and tongue in ulcerative 
white patches, coming on as a derangement of the 


Our abundant English grasses furnish nutritious herb- 
age and farinaceous seeds, whilst their stems and leaves 
prove useful for textile purposes. Furthermore, some 
few of them possess distinctive medicinal virtues, with 
mucilaginous roots, and may be properly classed among 
Herbal Simples. 

The Sweet-scented Yernal Grass (Anthoxanthum, with 
Yellow Anthers) gives its delightfully characteristic 
odour to newly mown meadow hay, and has a pleasant 
aroma of Woodruff. But it is specially provocative of 
hay fever and hay asthma with persons liable to suffer 
from these distressing ailments. Accordingly, a medi- 
cinal tincture is made (H.) from this grass with spirit of 
wine, and if some of the same is poured into the open 
hand-palms for the volatile aroma to be sniffed well into 
the nose and throat, immediate relief is afforded during 
an attack. At the same time three or four drops of the 
tincture should be taken as a dose with water, and 



repeated at intervals of twenty or thirty minutes, as 

The flowers contain "coumarin," and their volatile 
pollen impregnates the atmosphere in early summer. 
The sweet perfume is due chiefly to benzoic acid, such 
as is used for making scented pastilles, or Ribbon of 
Bruges for fumigation. 

Again, the Couch Grass, Dog Grass, or Quilch (Triti- 
cum repem) found freely in road-sides, fields, and waste 
places, has been employed from remote times as a 
vulnerary, and to relieve difficulties of urination. Our 
English wheat has been evolved therefrom. 

In modern days its infusion — of the root — is generally 
regarded as a soothing diuretic, helpful to the bladder 
and kidneys. Formerly, this was a popular drink to 
purify the blood in the Spiing, But no special constitu- 
ents have been discovered in the root besides a peculiar 
sugar, a gum-like principle, triticin, and some lactic 
acid. The decoction may be made from the whole 
fresh plant, or from the dried root sliced, two to four 
ounces being put in a quart of water, reduced to a pint 
by boiling. A wineglassful of this may be given for a 
dose. It certainly palliates irritation of the urinary 
passages, and helps to relieve against gravel. A liquid 
extract is also dispensed by the druggists, of which 
from one to two teaspoonfuls are given in water. 

The French specially value this grass for its stimula- 
ting fragrancy of vanilla and rose perfumes in the 
decoction. They use the Cocksfoot Grass (Dadylis), or 
pied de poule, in a similar way, and for the same purposes. 

Also the "bearded Darnel," Lolium temulentum {^^ m- 
toxicated "), a common grass-weed in English cornfields, 
will produce medicinally all the symptoms of drunken- 
ness. The French call it Ivraie for this reason, and 



with us it is known as Ray Grass, or in some provincial 
districts as " Cheat." The old Sages supposed it to 
cause blindness, hence with the Romans, lolio viditare^ to 
live on Darnel, was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted 
person. Gerard says, " the new bread wherein Darnell 
is eaten hot, causeth drunkenness." 

From lolium the term Lollard given in reproach to the 
Waldenses, and the followers of Wickliffe, indicated 
that they were pernicious weeds choking and destroying 
the pure wheat of the gospel. Milne says the ex- 
pression in Matthew xiii. v. 25, would have been better 
translated " darnel " than " tares." 

A general trembling, followed by inability to walk, 
hindered speech, and presently profound sleep, with 
subsequent headache and vomiting, are the symptoms 
produced by Darnel when taken in a harmful quantity. 
So that medicinally a tincture of the plant may be 
expected, if given in small diluted doses, to quickly 
dispel intoxication from alcoholic drinks ; also to prove 
useful for analogous congestion of the brain coming on 
as an illness, and for dimness of vision. Chemically, it 
contains an acrid fixed oil, and a yellow glucoside. 

There is some reason to suspect that the old custom 
of using Darnel to adulterate malt and distilled liquors 
has not been wholly abandoned. Farmers in Devonshire 
are fond of the Ray Grass, which they call " Eaver " or 
" Iver " ; and " Devon-ever " is noted likewise in Somer- 


Common Groundsel is so well known throughout Great 
Britain, that it needs scarcely any description. It is very 
prolific, and found in every sort of cultivated ground, 
being a small plant of the Daisy tribe, but without any 



outer white rays to its yellow flower-heads. These are 
compact little bundles, at first of a dull yellow colour, 
until presently the florets fall off" and leave the white 
woolly pappus of the seeds collected together, somewhat 
resembling the hoary hairs of age. They have sug- 
gested the name of the genus " senecio," from the Latin 
senex^ an old man : — 

** Quod canis simili videatur flore capillis ; 
Cura facit canos quamvis vir non habet annos." 

** With venerable locks the Groundsel grows; 
Hard care more quick than years white head-gear shows." 

In the fifteenth century this herb went by the name 
of Grondeswyle, from grund, ground, and swelgun^ to 
swallow, and to this day it is called in Scotland Grundy 
Swallow, or Ground Glutton. 

Not being attractive to insects or visited by them the 
Groundsel is fertilized by the wind. It flowers through- 
out the whole year, and is the favourite food of many 
small birds, being thus given to canaries, and to other 
domesticated songsters. 

The weed, named at first "Ascension," is called in the 
Eastern counties by corruption " Senshon " and " Sim- 
son." Its leaves are fleshy, with a bitter saline taste, 
whilst the juice is slightly acrid, but emollient. In 
this country farriers give it to horses for bot-worms, 
and in Germany it is employed as a vermifuge for 
children. A weak infusion of the whole plant with 
boiling water makes a simple and easy purgative dose, 
but a strong infusion will act as an emetic. For the 
former purpose two drachms by weight of the fresh 
plant should be boiled in four fluid ounces of water, 
and the same decoction serves as a useful gargle for a 



sore throat from catarrh. Chemically it contains 
senecin and seniocine. 

In the hands of Simplers the Groundsel formerly 
held high rank as a herb of power. An old herbal 
prescribes against toothache to " dig up Groundsel with 
a tool that hath no iron in it, and touch the tooth five 
times with the plant, then spit thrice after each touch, 
and the cure will be complete." Hill says " the fresh 
roots if smelled when first taken out of the ground, are 
an immediate cure for many forms of headache." To 
apply the bruised leaves will serve for preventing boils, 
and the plant, if taken as a sallet with vinegar, is good 
for sadness of the heart. Gerard says " Women troubled 
with the mother (womb) are much eased by baths made 
of the leaves, and flowers of this, and the kindred 

A decoction of Groundsel serves as a famous application 
for healing chapped hands. In Cornwall if the herb is 
to be used as an emetic they strip it upwards, if for a 
purgative downwards. " Lay by your learned receipts," 
writes Culpeper, "this herb alone shall do the deed 
for you in all hot diseases, first safely, second 

HA VTHORN (Whitethorn). 

The Hawthorn, or Whitethorn, is so welcome year by 
year as a harbinger of Summer, by showing its wealth 
of sweet-scented, milk-white blossoms, in our English 
hedgerows, that every one rejoices when the Mayflower 
comes into bloom. Its brilliant haws, or fruit, later 
on are a botanical advance on the blackberry and wild 
raspberry, which belong to the same natural order. 
It has promoted itself to the possession of a single 
carpel or seed-vessel to each blossom, producing a 



separate fruit, this being a stony apple in minia- 

But the word " haw " is misapplied, because it really 
means a " hedge," and not a fruit ; whilst "hips," which 
are popularly connected with " haws," are the fruit- 
capsules of the wild Dog-rose. Haws, when dried, make 
an infusion which will act on the kidneys; they are 
astringent, and serve, as well as the flowers, in decoction, 
to cure a sore throat. 

The Hawthorn bush was chosen by Henry the Seventh 
for his device, because a small crown from the helmet 
of Richard the Third was discovered hanging thereon. 
Hence arose the legend " Cleve to thy crown though it 
hangs on a bush." In some districts it is called Hazels, 
Gazels, and Halves ; and in many country places the 
villagers believe that the blossom of the Hawthorn still 
bears the smell of the great plague of London. It was 
formerly thought to be scathless — a tree too sacred to 
be touched. 

Botanically, the Hawthorn is called Cratcegus oxyacan- 
tha, these names signifying kratos, strength or hardness 
(of the w^ood) ; and oxus, sharp — akantha, a thorn. It is 
the German Hage-clorn or Hedge thorn, showing that 
from a very early period in the history of the Germanic 
races, their land was divided into plots by means of 

The Hawthorn is also named Whitethorn, from 
the whiteness of its rind ; and Quickset from its 
growing in a hedge as a " quick " or living shrub, when 
contrasted with a paling of dead wood. An old English 
name for the buds of the Hawthorn when just expand- 
ing, was Ladies' Meat; and in Sussex it is called the 
Bread and Cheese tree. 

In many parts of England charms or incantations are 



employed to prevent a thorn from festering in the flesh, 
as : — 

" Happy the man that Christ was born, 
He was crowned with a thorn. 
He was pierced through the skin 
For to let the poison in ; 
But His five wounds, so they say, 
Closed before He passed away ; 
In with healing, out with thorn I 
Happy man that Christ was born." 

The flowers are fertilised for the most part by carrion 
insects, and a certain undertone of decomposition may- 
be detected (says Grant Allen) by keen nostrils in the 
scent of the Mayflower. It is this curious element, in 
what seems otherwise a pure and delicious perfume, 
which attracts the meat-eating insects, or rather those 
insects which lay their eggs and hatch out their larvse 
in decaying animal matter. The meat-fly comes first 
abroad just at the time when the Mayblossom breaks 
into bloom. 

A Greek bride was sometimes decked with a sprig of 
Hawthorn, as emblematic of a flowery future, with 
thorns intermingled. It is supposed that " the Jewes 
maden," for our Saviour, "a croune of the branches of 
Albespyne, that is, Whitethorn, that grew in the same 
garden, and therefore hath the Whitethorn many 
yertues " being called in France Vepine noble. 

The shadows in the moon are popularly thought to 
represent a man laden with a bundle of thorns in 
punishment of theft :— 

" Rusticus in luna quern sarcina deprimit una, 
Monstrat per spinas nulli prodesse rapinas." 

" A thievish clown by cruel thorns opprest 
Shows in the moon that honesty pays best." 




The Spotted Hemlock (Conium maculoMm), and the 
Sickly -smelling Henbane {Hyoscyamus niger), are plants 
of common wild growth throughout England, especially 
the former, and are well known to everyone familiar 
with our Herbal Simples. But each is so highly nar- 
cotic as a medicine, and yet withal so safely useful 
externally to allay pain, as well as to promote healing, 
that their outward remedial forms of application must 
not be overlooked among our serviceable herbs. 
Nevertheless, for internal administration, these herbs 
lie altogether beyond the pale of domestic uses, except 
in the hands of a doctor. 

The Hemlock is an umbelliferous plant of frequent 
growth in our hedges and roadsides, with tall, hollow 
stalks, powdered blue at the bottom, whilst smooth and 
splashed about with spotty streaks of a reddish purple. 
It possesses foliage resembling that of the garden carrot, 
but feathery and more delicately divided. 

The name has been got from healm, or haulm, 
straw, and leac, a plant, because of the dry hollow 
stalks which remain after flowering is done. In Kent 
and Essex, the Hemlock is called Kecksies, and the 
stalks are spoken of as Hollow Kecksies. 

Keckis, or Kickes, of Humblelockis are mentioned by 
our oldest herbalists. In a book about herbs, of the 
fourteenth century, two sorts of Hemlock are specified — - 
one being the Grete Homeloc, which is called " Kex," 
or "Wode Whistle," being of no use except for poor 
men's fuel, and children's play. 

Botanically, it bears the name of Conium maculatum 
(spotted), the first of these words coming from the 
Greek, konos, a top, and having reference to the giddi- 
ness which the juice of hemlock causes toxically in the 



human brain. The unripe fruit of this plant possesses 
its peculiar medicinal properties in a greater degree 
than any other part, and the juice expressed therefrom 
is more reliably medicinal than the tincture made with 
spirit of wine, from the whole plant. 

Soil, situation, and the time of year, materially 
affect the potency of Hemlock. Being a biennial plant, 
it is not poisonous in this country to cattle during the 
first year, if they eat its leaves. 

The herb is always uncertain of action unless gathered 
of the true " maculatum " sort, when beginning to 
flower. Its juice should be thickened in a water bath, 
or the leaves carefully dried, and kept in a well- 
stoppered bottle, not exposed to the light. Cole says, 
*'if asses chance to feed on Hemlock, they will fall so 
fast asleep that they seem to be dead, insomuch that 
some, thinking them to be dead indeed, have flayed off 
their skins ; yet after the Hemlock had done operating 
they had stirred and wakened out of their sleep." 

The dried leaves of the plant, if put into a small bag, 
and steeped in boiling water for a few minutes, and 
then applied hot to a gouty part, will quickly relieve 
the pain ; also, they will help to soften the hard con- 
cretions which form about gouty joints. If the fresh 
juice of the Hemlock is evaporated to a thick syrup, and 
mixed with lanoline (the fat of sheep's wool), to make an 
ointment, it will afford wonderful relief to severe itching 
within and around the fundament ; but it must be 
thoroughly applied. For a poultice some of this 
thickened juice may be added to linseed meal and 
boiling water, previously mixed well together. 

Conium plasters were formerly employed to dry up 
the breast milk, and are now found of service to subdue 
palpitations of the heart. 



An extract of Hemlock, blended with potash, is kept 
by the chemists, to be mixed with boiling water, for 
inhalation to ease a troublesome spasmodic cough, or an 
asthmatic attack. In Russia and the Crimea, this plant 
is so inert as to be edible ; whereas in the South of 
Europe it is highly poisonous. 

Chemically, the toxic action of Hemlock depends on 
its alkaloids, "coniine," and " methyl-coniine." 

Vinegar has proved useful in neutralising the poison- 
ous effects of Hemlock, and it is said if the plant is 
macerated or boiled in vinegar it becomes altogether 

For inhalation to subdue whooping-cough, three or 
four grains of the extract should be mixed with a pint 
of boiling water in a suitable inhaler, so that the 
medicated vapour may be inspired through the mouth 
and nostrils. 

To make a Hemlock poultice, when the fresh plant 
cannot be procured, mix an ounce of powdered hem- 
lock leaves (from the druggist) with three ounces of 
linseed meal ; then gradually add half a pint of boiling 
water whilst constantly stirring. 

Herb, gatherers sometimes mistake the wild Cicely 
(Myrrhis odorata) for the Hemlock ; but this Cicely has 
a furrowed stem without spots, and is hairy, with a 
highly aromatic flavour. The bracts of Hemlock, at the 
base of the umbels, go only half way round the stem. 
The rough Chervil is also spotted, but hairy, and its 
stem is swollen below each joint. Under proper medical 
advice, the extract and the juice of Hemlock may be 
most beneficially given internally in cancer, and as a 
nervine sedative. 

The Hemlock was esteemed of old as Herba Benedicta, 
a blessed herb, because " where the root is in the house 



the devil can do no harm, and if anyone should carry 
the plant about on his person no venomous beast can 
harm him." The Eleusinian priests who were required 
to remain chaste all their lives, had the wisdom to rub 
themselves with Hemlock. 

Poultices may be made exclusively with the fresh 
leaves (which should be gathered in June) or with the 
dried leaflets when powdered, for easing and healing 
cancerous sores. Baron Stoerck first brought the plant 
into repute (1760) as a medicine of extraordinary efficacy 
for curing inveterate scirrhus, cancer, and ulcers, such 
as were hitherto deemed irremediable. 

Likewise the Cicuta virosa, or Water Hemlock, has 
proved curative to many similar glandular swellings. 
This is also an umbelliferous plant, which grows com- 
monly on the margins of ditches and rivers in many 
parts of England. It gets its name from cicuta (a shep- 
herd's pipe made from a reed), because of its hollow 
stems. Being hurtful to cows it has acquired the 
title of Cowbane. 

The root when incised secretes from its wounded 
bark a yellow juice of a narcotic odour and acrid taste. 
This has been applied externally with benefit for scirr- 
hous cancer, and to ease the pain of nervous gout. But 
when taken internally it is dangerous, being likely to 
provoke convulsions, or to produce serious narcotic 
effects. Nevertheless, goats eat the herb with im- 
punity : — 

"Nam videre licet pinguescere soepe cicutam, 
Barbigeras pecudes ; hominique est acre venenum." 

The leaves smell like celery or parsley, these being 
most toxical in summer, and the root in spring. The 
potency of the plant depends on its cicutoxin, a 
principle derived from the resinous constituents, and 



which powerfully affects the organic functions through 
the spinal cord. It was either this or the Spotted 
Hemlock, which was used as the State poison of the 
Greeks for causing the death of Socrates. 

For a fomentation with the Water Hemlock half-a- 
pound of the fresh leaves, or three ounces of the dried 
leaves should be boiled in three pints of water down to 
a quart ; and this will be found very helpful for soothing 
and healing painful cancerous, or scrofulous sores. Also 
the juice of the herb mixed with hot lard, and strained, 
will serve a like useful purpose. 

For pills of the herb take of its inspissated juice half- 
an-ounce, and of the finely powdered plant enough when 
mixed together to make from forty to sixty pills. 
Then for curing cancer, severe scrofula, or syphilitic 
sores, give from one to twenty of these pills in twenty- 
four hours {Pharmacopeia Chirurgica, 1794). 

An infusion of the plant will serve wh^n carefully 
used, to relieve nervous and sick headache. If the 
fresh, young, tender leaves are worn under the soles of 
the feet, next the skin, and are renewed once during 
the day, they will similarly assuage the discomfort of 
a nervous headache. The oil with which the herb 
abounds is not poisonous. 

The Black Henbane grew almost everywhere about 
England, in Gerard's day, by highways, in the borders 
of fields, on dunghills, and in untoiled places. But now 
it has become much less common as a rustic herb in 
this country. We find it occasionally in railway cut- 
tings, and in rubbish on waste places, chiefly on chalky 
ground, and particularly near the sea. The plant is 
biennial, rather large, and dull of aspect, with woolly sea- 
green leaves, and bearing bell-shaped flowers of a lurid, 
creamy colour, streaked and spotted with purple. It 



is one of the Night-shade tribe, having a heavy, oppres- 
sive, sub-fetid odour, and being rather clammy to the 
touch. This herb is also called Hogsbean, and its 
botanical name, Hyoscyamus, signifies " the bean of the 
hog," which animal eats it with impunity, though to 
mankind it is a poisonous plant. It has been noticed in 
Sherwood Forest, that directly the turf is pared 
Henbane springs up. 

"To wash the feet," said Gerard, "in a decoction of 
Henbane, as also the often smelling to the flowers, 
causeth sleep." Similarly famous anodyne necklaces 
were made from the root, and were hung about the 
necks of children to prevent fits, and to cause an easy 
breeding of the teeth. From the leaves again was pre- 
pared a famous sorcerer's ointment. " These, the seeds, 
and the juice," says Gerard, " when taken internally, 
cause an unquiet sleep, like unto the sleep of drunken- 
ness, which continueth long, and is deadly to the patient." 

The herb was known to the ancients, being described 
by Dioscorides and Celsus. Internally, it should only 
be prescribed by a physician, and is then of special 
service for relieving irritation of the bladder, and to 
allay maniacal excitement, as well as to subdue spasm. 

The fresh leaves crushed, and applied as a poultice, 
will quickly relieve local pains, as of gout or neuralgia. 
In France the plant is called Jusquiame, and in Germany 
it is nicknamed Devil's-eye. 

The chemical constituents of Henbane are " hyos- 
cyamine," a volatile alkaloid, with a bitter principle, 
" hyoscypricin " (especially just before flowering), also 
nitrate of potash, which causes the leaves, when burnt, 
to sparkle with a deflagration, and other inorganic salts. 
The seeds contain a whitish, oily albumen. 

The leaves and viscid stem are produced only in 



each second year. The juice when dropped into the 
eye will dilate the pupil. 

Druggists prepare this juice of the herb, and an 
extract ; also, they dispense a compound liniment of 
Henbane, which, when applied to the skin-surface on 
piline, is of great service for relieving obstinate rheu- 
matic pains. 

In some rural districts the cottony leaves of Henbane 
are smoked for toothache, like tobacco, but this practice 
is not free from risk of provoking convulsions, and even 
of causing insanity. 

Gerard writes, with regard to the use of the seed of 
Henbane by mountebanks, for obstinate toothache : 

Drawers of teeth who run about the country and 
pretend they cause worms to come forth from the teeth 
by burning the seed in a chafing dish of coals, the party 
holding his mouth over the fume thereof, do have some 
crafty companions who convey small lute strings into 
the water, persuading the patient that those little 
creepers came out of his mouth, or other parts which 
it was intended to ease." Forestus says : " These pre- 
tended worms are no more than an appearance of worms 
which is always seen in the smoak of Henbane seed." 

" Sic dentes serva ; porrorum collige grana : 
No careas thure ; cum hyoscyamo ure : 
Sic que per embotum fumun cape dente remotum." 

Regimen sanitatis salernitanvm (Translated 1607). 

" If in your teeth you happen to be tormented, 

By means some little worms therein do brede, 
Which pain (if need be tane) may be prevented 

By keeping cleane your teeth when as ye fead. 
Burn Frankonsence (a gum not evil scented), 

Put Henbane into this, and onyon seed, 
And with a tunnel to the tooth that's hollow, 

Convey the smoke thereof, and ease shall follow." 



By older writers, the Henbane was called Henbell and 
Symphonica, as implying its resemblance to a ring of 
bells (Symphonia), which is struck with a hammer. It 
has also been named Faba Jovis (Jupiter's bean). Only 
within recent times has the suffix "bell" given place 
to " bane," because the seeds are fatal to poultrj?- and 
fish. In some districts horsedealers mix the seed of 
Henbane with their oats, in order to fatten the animals. 

An instance is narrated where the roots of Henbane 
were cooked by mistake at a monastery for the supper 
of its inmates, and produced most strange results. One 
monk would insist on ringing the large bell at midnight, 
to the alarm of the neighbourhood ; whilst of those who 
came to prayers at the summons, several could not read 
at all, and others read anything but what was con- 
tained in their breviaries. 

Some authors suppose that this is the noxious herb 
intended by Shakespeare, in the play of Hamlet, 
when the ghost of the murdered king makes plaint, 
that : 

" Sleeping within mine orchard, 
My custom always of the afternoon, 
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole, 
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial, 
And in the porches of mine ear did pour 
The leprous distilment." 

But others argue more correctly that the name used 
here is a varied form of that by which the yew is known 
in at least five of the Gothic languages, and which 
appears in Marlow and other Elizabethan writers, as 
"hebon." "This tree," says Lyte, "is altogether 
venomous and against man's nature ; such as do but 
only sleepe under the shadow thereof, become sicke, and 
sometimes they die." 




Being essentially of floral origin, and a vegetable pro- 
duct endowed with curative properties, Honey may 
be fairly ranked among Herbal Simples. Indeed, it is 
the nectar of flowers, partaking closely of their flavours 
and odours, whilst varying in taste, colour, scent, and 
medicinal attributes, according to the species of the 
plant from which it is produced. 

The name Honey has been derived from a Hebrew 
word ghoneg, which means literally " delight." His- 
torically, this substance dates from the oldest times of 
the known world. We read in the book of Genesis, 
that the land of Canaan where Abraham dwelt, was 
flowing with milk and honey ; and in the Mosaic law 
were statutes regulating the ownership of bees. 

Among the ancients Honey was used for embalming 
the dead, and it is still found contained in their 
preserved coflins. 

Aristceus, a pupil of Chiron, first gathered Honey 
from the comb, and it was the basis of the seasoning of 
Apicius : whilst Pythagoras, who lived to be ninety, took 
latterly only bread and Honey. " Whoever wishes," said 
an old classic maxim, " to preserve his health, should 
eat every morning before breakfast young onions with 

Tacitus informs us that our German ancestors gave 
credit for theu' great strength and their long lives to 
the Mead, or Honey-beer, on which they regaled them- 
selves. Pliny tells of Rumilius Pollio, who enjoyed 
marvellous health and vitality, when over a hundred 
years old. On being presented to the Emperor Augustus, 
who enquired what was the secret of his wondrous 
longevity, Pollio answered Interns melle, exterus oleo, " the 
eating of Honey, and anointing with oil." 



At the feasts of the gods, described by Ovid, the 
delicious Honey-cakes were never wanting, these being 
made of meal. Honey, and oil, whilst corresponding in 
number to the years of the devout ofterer. 

Pure Honey contains chemically about seventy per 
cent, of glucose (analogous to grape sugar) or the 
crystallizable part which sinks to the bottom of the 
jar, whilst the other portion above, which is non- 
crystallizable, is levulose, or fruit sugar, almost iden- 
tical with the brown syrup of the sugar cane, but less 
easy of digestion. Hence, the proverb has arisen " of 
oil the top, of wine the middle, of Honey the bottom." 

The odour of Honey is due to a volatile oil associated 
with a yellow colouring matter melichroin, which is 
separated by the floral nectaries, and becomes bleached 
on exposure to the sunlight. A minute quantity of an 
animal acid lends additional curative value for sore 
throat, and some other ailments. 

Honey has certain claims as a food which cane sugar 
does not possess. It is a heat former, and a producer 
of vital energy, both in the human subject, and in the 
industrious little insect which collects the luscious 
fodder. Moreover, it is all ready for absorption straight- 
way into the blood after being eaten, whereas cane 
sugar must be first masticated with the saliva, or 
spittle, and converted somewhat slowly into honey 
sugar before it can be utilised for the wants of the 
body. In this way the superiority of Honey over cane 
sugar is manifested, and it may be readily understood 
why grapes, the equivalent of Honey in the matter of 
their sugar, have an immediate effect in relieving 
fatigue by straightway contributing power and caloric. 

Aged persons who are toothless may be supported 
almost exclusively on sugar. The great Duke of 




Beaufort, whose teeth were white and sound at seventy, 
whilst his general health was likewise excellent, had for 
forty years before his death a pound of sugar daily in 
his wine, chocolate, and sweetmeats. A relish for sugar 
lessens the inclination for alcohol, and seldom accom- 
panies the love of strong drink. 

With young children, cane sugar is apt to form acids 
in the stomach, chiefly acetic, by a process of fermenta- 
tion which causes pain, and flatulence, so that milk 
sugar should be given instead to those of tender years 
who are delicate, as this produces only lactic acid, which 
is the main constituent of digestive gastric juice. 

A¥hen examined under a microscope Honey exhibits 
in addition to its crystals (representing glucose, or 
grape sugar), pollen-granules of various forms, often so 
perfect that they may be referred to the particular 
plants from which the nectar has been gathered. 

As good Honey contains sugar in a form suitable 
for such quick assimilation, it should be taken generally 
in some combination less easily absorbed, otherwise the 
digestion may be upset by too speedy a glut of heat 
production, and of energy. Therefore the bread and 
Honey of time-honoured memory is a sound form of 
sustenance, as likewise, the proverbial milk and Honey 
of the Old Testament. This may be prepared by taking 
a bowl of new milk, and breaking into it some light 
wheaten bread, together with some fresh white Honey- 
comb. The mixture will be found both pleasant and 
easy of digestion. 

Our forefathers concocted from Honey boiled with 
water and exposed to the sun (after adding chopped 
raisins, lemon peel, and other matters) a famous fer- 
mented drink, called mead, and this was termed methe- 
glin (metJm, wine, and aglaion, splendid) when the finer 



Honey was used, and certain herbs were added so as to 
confer special flavours. 

" Who drank very hard the whole night through 
Cups of strong mead, made from honey when new, 
Metheglin they called it, a mighty strong brew, 
Their whistles to wet for the morrow." 

Likewise, the old Teutons prepared a Honey wine, 
(hydromel), and made it the practice to drink this for the 
.first thirty days after marriage ; from which custom has 
been derived the familiar Honeymoon, or the month 
after a wedding. 

Queen Elizabeth was particularly fond of mead, and 
had it made every year according to a special recipe 
of her own, which included the leaves of sweet briar, 
with rosemary, cloves, and mace. 

Honey derived from cruciferous plants, such as rape, 
ladies' smock, and the wallflower, crystallizes quickly, 
often, indeed, within the comb before it is removed from 
the hive ; whilst Honey from labiate plants, and from 
fruit trees in general, remains unchanged for several 
months after being extracted from the comb. 

As a heat producer, if taken by way of food, one 
pound of Honey is equal to two pounds of butter ; and 
when cod liver oil is indicated, but cannot be tolerated 
by the patient, Honey may sometimes be most bene- 
ficially substituted. 

In former times it was employed largely as a medicine, 
and applied externally for the healing of wounds. 
When mixed with flour, and spread on linen, or leather, 
it has long been a simple remedy for bringing boils to 
maturity. In coughs and colds it makes a serviceable 
adjunct to expectorant medicines, whilst acting at the 
same time as sufficiently laxative. For sore throats 
it may be used in gargles with remarkable benefit ; and 



when mixed with vinegar it forms the old-fashioned 
oxymel, always popular against colds of the chest and 

" Honeywater " distilled from Honey, incorporated 
with sand, is an excellent wash for promoting the 
growth of the hair, either by itself, or when mixed with 
spirit of rosemary. Rose Honey (rhodomel) made from 
the expressed juice of rose petals with Honey, was 
formerly held in high esteem for the sick. 

Bee propolis, or the glutinous resin manufactured by 
bees for fixing the foundations of their combs, will 
afford relief to the asthmatic by its fumes when burnt. 
It consists largely of resin, and yields-'benzoic acid. 

Basilicon, kingly ointment, or resin ointment, is 
composed of bees wax, olive oil, resin, Burgundy pitch, 
and turpentine. This is said to be identical with the 
famous " Holloway's Ointment," and is highly useful 
when the stimulation of indolent sores is desired. 

A medicinal tincture of superlative worth is prepared 
by Homoeopathic practitioners from the sting of the 
Honey bee. This makes a most valuable and approved 
medicine for obviating erysipelas, especially of the head 
and face ; likewise, for a puffy sore throat with much 
swelling about the tonsils ; also for dropsy of the 
limbs which has followed a chill, or is connected with 
passive inactivity of the kidneys. Ten drops of the 
diluted tincture, first decimal strength, should be given 
three or four times in the day, with a tablespoonful 
of cold water. This remedy is known as the tincture 
of Apis mellifica. For making it the bees are seized 
when emerging from the hive, and they thus become 
irritated, being ready to sting. They are put to death 
with a few drops of chloroform, and then have their 
Honey-bags severed. These are bruised in a mortar 


with glycerine, and bottled in spirit of wine, shak- 
ing them for several days, and lastly filtering the 

Boiling water poured on bees (workers) when newly 
killed makes bee-tea, which may be taken to relieve 
strangury, and a difficult passage of urine, as likewise 
for dropsy of the heart and kidneys. Also of such 
bees when dried and powdered, thirty grains will act as 
a dose to promote a free flow of the urine. 

Honey, especially if old, will cause indigestion 
when eaten by some persons, through an excessive 
production of lactic acid in the stomach ; and a super- 
ficial ulceration of the mouth and tongue, resembling 
thrush, will ensue ; it being at the same time a known 
popular fact, that Honey by itself, or when mixed with 
powdered borax (which is alkaline) will speedily cure a 
similar sore state within the mouth arising through 
deranged health. 

As long ago as when Soranus lived, the contempor- 
ary of Galen (160 A.D.) Honey was declared to be "an 
easy remedy for the thrush of children," but he gravely 
attributed its virtues in this respect to the circumstance 
that bees collected the Honey from flowers growing 
over the tomb of Hippocrates, in the vale of Tempe. 

The sting venom of bees has been found helpful for 
relieving rheumatic gout in the hands, and elsewhere 
through toxicating the tender and swollen limbs by 
means of lively bees placed over the parts in an inverted 
tumbler, and then irritating the insects so as to make 
them sting. A custom prevails in Malta of inoculation 
by frequent bee stinging, so as to impart at length a 
protective immunity against rheumatism, this being 
confirmatory of the fact known to bee keepers elsewhere, 
that after exposure to attacks from bees, often repeated 


throughout a length of time, most persons will acquire 
a convenient freedom from all future disagreeable 
effects. An Austrian physician has based on these 
methods an infallible cure for acute rheumatism. 

In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch asks 
to have a " song for sixpence," the third verse of 
which has been thought to run thus : — 

" The King was in his counting house 
Counting out his money, 
The Queen was in the parlour 
Eating bread and Honey." 

Mel mandit, panemque, morans regina culina, 
Dulcia plebeia non comedenda nuru." 

A plain cake, currant or seed, made with Honey in 
place of sugar is a pleasant addition to the tea-table 
and a capital preventive of constipation. 

" All kinds of precious stones cast into Hrney become 
more brilliant thereby," says St. Francis de Sales in 
The Devout Life, 1708, "and all persons become 
more acceptable when they join devotion to their 


The Hop (Humulus lupulus) belongs to the Nettle tribe 
(Cannabinem) of plants, and grows wild in our English 
hedges and copses ; but then it bears only male flowers. 
When cultivated it produces the female catkins, or 
strobiles which are so well known as Hops, and are 
so largely used for brewing purposes. 

The plant gets its first name Humulus from humus, the 
rich moist ground in which it chooses to grow, and its 
affix lupulus from the Latin lupus a wolf, because 
(as Pliny explained), when produced among osiers, it 



strangles them by its light climbing embraces as the 
wolf does a sheep. 

The word Hop comes from the Anglo-saxon lioppan 
to climb. The leaves and the flowers afl'ord a fine 
brown dye, and paper has been made from the bine, or 
stalk, which sprouts in May, and soon grows luxuriantly ; 
as said old Tusser (1557) : — 

" Get into thy Hop-yard, for now it is time 
To teach Robin Hop on his pole how to climb." 

The Hop, says Cockayne, was known to the Saxons, 
and they called it the Hymele, a name enquired-for in 
vain among Hop grovvers in Worcestershire and Kent. 

Hops were first brought to this country from 
Flanders, in 1524 : — - 

" Turkeys, Carp, Hops, Pickerel, and Beer, 
Came into England all in one year," 

So writes old Izaak Walton ! Before Hops were used 
for improving and preserving beer our Saxon ancestors 
drank a beverage made from malt, but clarified in a 
measure with Ground Ivy which is hence named Ale- 
hoof. This was a thick liquor about which it was said :— 

" Nil spissius est dum bibitur ; nil clarius dum mingitur, 
Unde constat multas fseces in ventre relinqui." 

The Picts made beer from heather, but the secret of 
its manufacture was lost when they became extermin- 
ated, since it had never been divulged to strangers. 
Kenneth offered to spare the life of a father, whose son 
had been just slain, if he would reveal the method ; but, 
though pardoned, he refused persistently. The inhabit- 
ants of Tola, Jura, and other outlying districts, now 
brew a potable beer by mixing two-thirds of heath tops 
with one of malt. Highlanders think it very lucky to 



find the white heather, which is the badge of the 
Captain of Clan Ronald. 

At first Hops were unpopular, and were supposed to 
engender melancholy. Therefore Henry the Eighth 
issued an injunction to brewers not to use them. 
"Hops," says John Evelyn in his Pomona, 1670, "trans- 
muted our wholesome ale into beer, which doubtless 
much altered our constitutions. This one ingredient, 
by some suspected not unworthily, preserves the drink 
indeed, but repays the pleasure with tormenting dis- 
eases, and a shorter life." 

Hops, such as come into the market, are the chaffy 
capsules of the seeds, and turn brown early in the 
autumn. They possess a heavy fragrant aromatic odour, 
and a very bitter pungent taste. The yellow glands at 
the base of the scales aff'ord a volatile strong-smelling 
oil, and an abundant yellow powder which possesses 
most of the virtues of the plant. Our druggists pre- 
pare a tincture from the strobiles with spirit of wine, 
and likewise a thickened extract. 

Again, a decoction of the root is esteemed by some 
as of equal benefit with Sarsaparilla. 

The lassitude felt in hot weather at its first access, or 
in early spring, may be well met by an infusion of the 
leaves, strobiles and stalks as Hop tea, taken by the 
wineglassful two or three times in the day, whilst 
sluggish derangements of the liver and spleen may be 
benefited thereby. 

Lupulin, the golden dust from the scales (but not the 
pollen of the anthers, as some erroneously suppose), is 
given in powder, and acts as a gentle sedative if taken 
at bedtime. This is specific against sexual irritability 
and its attendant train of morbid symptoms, with 
mental depression and vital exhaustion. It contains 



" lupulite," a volatile oil, and a peculiar resin, which is 
somewhat acrid, and penetrating of taste. 

Each of the Simples got from the Hop will allay pain 
and conduce to sleep; they increase the firmness of the 
pulse, and reduce its frequency. 

Also if applied externally. Hops as a poultice, or when 
steeped in a bag, in very hot water as a stupe, will 
relieve muscular rheumatism, spasm, and bruises. 

Hop tea, when made from the flowers only, is to be 
brewed by pouring a pint of boiling water on an ounce 
of the Hops, and letting it stand until cool. This is an 
excellent drink in delirium tremens, and will give 
prompt ease to an irritable bladder. Sherry in which 
some Hops have been steeped makes a capital stomachic 
cordial. A pillow, Fulvinar Humuli, stuffed with newly 
dried Hops was successfully prescribed by Dr. Willis for 
George the Third, when sedative medicines had failed to 
give him sleep ; and again for our Prince of Wales at the 
time of his severe typhoid fever, 1871, in conjunction 
then with a most grateful draught of ale which had 
been heretofore withheld. The crackling of dry Hop 
flowers when put into a pillow may be prevented by 
first sprinkling them with a little alcohol. 

Persons have fallen into a deep slumber after remain- 
ing for some time in a storehouse full of hops ; and in 
certain northern districts a watery extract from the 
flowers is given instead of opium. It is useful to know 
that for sound reasons a moderate supper of bread and 
butter, with crisp fresh lettuces, and light home-brewed 
ale which contains Hops, is admirably calculated to 
promote sleep, except in a full-blooded plethoric person. 
Lupulin, the glandular powder from the dried strobiles, 
will induce sleep without causing constipation, or head- 
ache. The dose is from two to four grains at bedtime 



on a small piece of bread and butter, or mixed with a 
spoonful of milk. 

The year 1855 produced a larger crop of cultivated 
Hops than has been known before or since. When Hop 
poles are shaken by the wind there is a distant elec- 
trical murmur like thunder. 

Hop tea in the leaf is now sold by grocers, made from 
a mixture of the Kentish and Indian plants, so as to 
combine in its infusion, the refreshment of the one 
herb with the sleep-inducing virtues of the other. The 
hops are brought direct from the farmers, just as they 
are picked. They are then laid for a few hours to 
wither, after which they are put under a rolling 
apparatus, which in half-an-hour makes them look 
like tea leaves, both in shape and colour. They are 
finally mixed with Indian and Ceylon teas. 

The young tops of the Hop plant if gathered in 
the spring and boiled, may be eaten as asparagus, 
and make a good pot-herb : they were formerly 
brought to market tied up in small bundles for table 

A popular notion has, in some places, associated the 
Hop and the Nightingale together as frequenting the 
same districts. 

Medicinally the Hop is tonic, stomachic, and diuretic, 
with antiseptic effects ; it prevents worms, and allays 
the disquietude of nervous indigestion. The popular 
nostrum " Hop Bitters" is thus made: Buchu leaves, two 
ounces ; Hops, half-a-pound ; boil in five quarts of water, 
in an iron vessel, for an hour ; when lukewarm add 
essence of Winter-green {Pijrola), two ounces, and one 
pint of alcohol. Take one tablespoonful three times in 
the day, before eating. White Bryony root is likewise 
used in making the Bitters. 



HOREHOUND (White and Blaek). 

The herb Horehound occurs of two sorts, white and 
black, ill our hedge-rows, and on the sides of banks, 
each getting its generic name, which was originally 
Harehune, from hara, hoary, and hune, honey ; or, 
possibly, the name Horehound may be a corruption of 
the Latin Urinaria, since the herb has been found 
efficacious in cases of strangury, or difficult making of 

The White Horehound {Marriibium) is a common 
square-stemmed herb of the Labiate order, growing in 
waste places, and of popular use for coughs and colds, 
whether in a medicinal form, or as a candied sweetmeat. 
Its botanical title is of Hebrew derivation, from marrob, 
a bitter juice. The plant is distinguished by the white 
woolly down on its stems, by its wrinkled leaves, and 
small white flowers. 

It has a musky odour, and a bitter taste, being a 
much esteemed Herbal Simple, but very often spuri- 
ously imitated. It affords chemically a fragrant vola- 
tile oil, a bitter extractive "marrubin," and gallic acid. 

As a homely remedy it is especially given for coughs 
accompanied with abundant thick expectoration, and 
for chronic asthma. In Norfolk scarcely a cottage 
garden can be found without its Horehound corner ; 
and Horehound beer is much drunk there by the 
natives. Horehound tea may be made by pouring 
boiling water on the fresh leaves, an ounce to a pint, 
and sweetening this with honey : then a wineglassful 
should be taken three or four times in the da}^ Or 
from two to three teaspoonfuls of the expressed juice 
of the herb may be given for a dose. 

Candied Horehound is best made from the fresh 
plant by boiling it down until the juice is extracted, 



and then adding sugar before boiling tliis again until it 
has become thick enough of consistence to pour into 
a paper case, and to be cut into squares when cool. 
Gerard said : " Syrup made from the greene fresh 
leaves and sugar is a most singular remedy against the 
cough and wheezing of the lungs. It doth wonderfully, 
and above credit, ease such as have been long sicke of 
any consumption of the lungs ; as hath been often 
proved by the learned physicians of our London 

When given in full doses, an infusion of the herb is 
laxative. If the plant be put in new milk and set in a 
place pestered with flies, it will speedily kill them all. 
And according to Columella, the Horehound is a 
serviceable remedy against the Cankerworm in trees : 
Profuit et plantis latices infimdere amaros mirruhii. 

The Marrubium was called by the Egyptian Priests 
the "Seed of Horus," or "the Bull's Blood." and "the 
Eye of the Star." It was a principal remedy in the 
Negro Coesar's Antidote for vegetable poisons. 

The Black Horehound (Ballota nigra), so called from 
its dark purple-coloured flowers, is likewise of common 
growth about our roadsides and waste places. Its 
botanical title comes from the Greek hallo, to reject, 
because of its disagreeable odour, particularly when 
burnt. The herb is sometimes known as Madwort, 
being supposed to act as an antidote to the bite of a 
mad dog. In Beaumont and Fletcher's Faithful Shep- 
herdess, we read of : — 

" Black Houehound, good 
For Sheep, or Shepherd bitten by a wood- 
dog's venomed tooth." 

If its leaves are applied externally as a poultice, they 
will relieve the pain of gout, and will mollify angry 



boils. In Gotha the plant is valued for curing chronic 
skin diseases, particularly of a fungoid character, such 
as ringworm; also for diseases of cattle. "This," says 
Meyrick " is one of those neglected English herbs which 
are possessed of great virtues, though they are but 
little known, and still less regarded. It is superior to 
most things as a remedy in hysteria, and for low spirits." 
Drayton said (Polyhion, 1613) : — 

" For comforting the spleen and liver — get for juice, 
Pale Horehound." 

The Water Horehound (Lycopus), or Gipsy wort, which 
grows frequently in our damp meadows and on the 
sides of streams, yields a black dye used for wool, or 
silk, and with which gipsies stain their skins, as well 
as with Walnut juice. "This is called Gipsy Wort," 
says Lyte," because the rogues and runagates, which name 
themselves Egyptians, do colour themselves black with 
this herbe." Each of the Horehounds is a labiate plant ; 
and this, the water variety, bears flesh coloured 
flowers, whilst containing a volatile oil, a resin, 
a bitter principle, and tannin. Its medicinal action is 
astringent, with a reduced frequency of the pulse, and 
some gentle sedative effects, so that any tendency to 
coughing, etc., will be allayed. Half-an-ounce of the 
plant to a pint of boiling water will make the infusion. 

HORSE RADISH (Radix, a Root). 
The Horse Kadish of our gardens is a cultivated cruci- 
ferous plant of which the fresh root is eaten, when 
scraped, as a condiment to correct the richness of our 
national roast beef. This plant grows wild in many 
parts of the country, particularly about rubbish, and 
the sides of ditches ; yet it is probably an introduction, 



and not a native. Its botanical name, Cochlearia 
armoracia, implies a resemblance between its leaves and 
an old-fashioned spoon, cocMeare ; also that the most 
common place of its growth is ai\ near, mor, the 

Our English vernacular styles the plant "a coarse 
root," or a " Horse radish," as distinguished from the 
eatable radish (root), the liaphanus sativus. Formerly 
it was named Mountain Radish, and Great Raifort. 
This is said to be one of the five bitter herbs ordered to 
be eaten by the Jews during the Feast of the Passover, 
the other four being Coriander, Horehound, Lettuce, 
and Nettle. 

Not a few fatal cases have occurred of persons being 
poisoned by taking Aconite root in mistake for a stick 
of Horse radish, and eating it when scraped. But the 
two roots diftV materially in shape, colour, and taste, 
so as to be easily discriminated : furthermore the leaves 
of the Aconite — supposing them to be attached to the 
root — are not to be mistaken for those of any other 
plant, being completely divided to their base into five 
wedge-shaped lobes, which are again sub divided into 
three. Squire says it seems incredible that the Aconite 
Root should be mistaken for Horse Radish unless we 
remember that country folk are in the habit of putting 
back again into the ground Horse Radish which has 
been scraped, until there remain only the crown and a 
remnant of the root vanishing to a point, these bearing 
resemblance to the tap root of Aconite. 

The fresh root of the Horse radish is a powerful 
stimulant by reason of its ardent and pungent volatile 
principle, whether it be taken as a medicament, or be 
applied externally to any part of the body. When 
scraped it exhales a nose-provoking odour, and possesses 



a hot biting taste, combined with a certain sweetness : 
but on exposure to the air it quickly turns colour, and 
loses its volatile strength ; likewise, it becomes vapid, 
and inert by being boiled. The root is expectorant, 
antiscorbutic, and, if taken at all freely, emetic. It 
contains a somewhat large proportion of sulphur, as 
shown by the black colour assumed by metals with 
which it comes into touch. Hence it promises to be 
of signal use for relieving chronic rheumatism, and 
for remedying scurvy. 

Taken in sauce with oily fish or rich fatty 
viands, scraped Horse radish acts as a corrective 
spur to complete digestion, and at the same time it 
will benefit a relaxed sore throat, by contact during 
the swallowing. In facial neuralgia scraped Horse 
radish applied as a poultice, proves usefully beneficial : 
and for the same purpose some of the fresh scrapings 
may be profitably held in the hand of the aftected side, 
which hand will become in a short time bloodlessly 
benumbed, and white. 

When sliced across with a knife the root of the Horse 
radish will exude some drops of a sweet juice which 
may be rubbed with advantage on rheumatic, or palsied 
limbs. Also an infusion of the sliced root in milk, almost 
boiling, and allowed to cool, makes an excellent and 
safe cosmetic ; or the root may be infused for a longer 
time in cold milk, if preferred, for use with a like 
purpose in view. Towards the end of the last century 
Horse radish was known in England as Red cole, and 
in the previous century it was eaten habitually at table, 
sliced, with vinegar. 

Infused in wine the root stimulates the whole 
nervous system, and promotes perspiration, whilst 
acting likewise as a diuretic. For rheumatic neuralgia 



it is almost a specific, and for palsy it has often proved 
of service. Our druggists prepare a " compound spirit 
of Horse radish," made with the sliced fresh root, 
orange peel, nutmeg, and spirit of wine. This proves 
of effective use in strengthless, languid indigestion, as 
well as for chronic rheumatism ; it stimulates the 
stomach, and promotes the digestive secretions. From 
one to two teaspoonfuls may be taken two or three 
times in the day, with half a wineglassful of water, at 
the end of a principal meal, or a few minutes after the 
meal. An infusion of the root made with boiling 
water and taken hot readily proves a stimulating 
emetic. Until cut or bruised the root is inodorous ; 
but fermentation then begins, and develops from the 
essential oil an ammoniacal odour and a pungent hot 
bitter taste which were not pre-existing. 

Chemically the Horse radish contains a volatile oil, 
identical with that of mustard, being highly diffusible 
and pungent by reason of its "myrosin." One drop of 
this volatile oil will suffice to odorise the atmosphere 
of a whole room, and, if swallowed with any freedom, 
it excites vomiting. Other constituents of the root 
are a bitter resin, sugar, starch, gum, albumen, and 

A mixture of the fresh juice, with vinegar, if applied 
externally, will prove generally of service for removing 

Bergius alleges that by cutting the root into very 
small pieces without bruising it, and then swallowing a 
tablespoonful of these fragments every morning without 
chewing them, for a month, a cure has been effected 
in chronic rheumatism, which had seemed otherwise 

For loss of the voice and relaxed sore throat the 



infusion of Horse radish makes an excellent gargle; or 
it may be concentrated in the form of a syrup, and 
mixed for the same use — a teaspoonful, with a wine- 
c^lassful of cold water. 

Gerard said of the root: "If bruised and laid to the 
part grieved with the sciatica, gout, joyntache, or the 
hard swellings of the spleen and liver, it doth wonder- 
fully help them all." If the scraped root be macerated 
in vinegar, it will form a mixture (which may be 
sweetened with glycerine to the taste) very effective 
against whooping cough. In pimply acne of the skin, 
to touch each papula with some of the Compound Spirit 
of Horse Eadish now and again will soon effect a 
general cure of the ailment. 

HOUSE LEEK (Crassulaeeoej. 

The House Leek {Sempervivum tedorum), or "never 
dying " flower of our cottage roofs, which is commonly 
known also as Stone-crop, grows plentifully on walls 
and the tops of small buildings throughout Great 
Britain, in all country districts. It is distinguished by 
its compact rose-shaped arrangement of seagreen succu- 
lent leaves lying sessile in a somewhat flattened manner, 
and by its popularity among country folk on account of 
these bland juicy leaves, and its reputed protective vir- 
tues. It possesses a remarkable tenacity of life, quern 
semper vivam dicunt ([uoniam omni tempore viret, this being in 
allusion to its prolonged vitality ; for which reason it is 
likewise called Ayegreen, and Sengreen (semper, green). 

History relates that a botanist tried hard for eighteen 
months to dry a plant of the House Leek for his 
herbarium, but failed in this object. He afterwards 
restored it to its first site when it grew again as if 
nothing had interfered with its ordinary life. 




The plant was dedicated of old to Thor, or Jupiter, 
and sometimes to the Devil. It bore the titles of Thor's 
beard, Jupiter's eye, Joubarb, and Jupiter's beard, from 
its massive inflorescence which resembles the sculptured 
beard of Jove; though a more recent designation is 
St. George's beard. 

*' Quern sempervivam dicunt quoniam viret omni 
Tempore—' Barba Jovis ' vulgari more vocatur, 
Esse refert similem predictoe Plinius istam." 


The Komans took great pleasure in the House Leek, 
and grew it in vases set before the windows of their 
houses. They termed it Buphthalmon, Zoophthalmov, 
and Stergethron, as one of the love medicines ; it being 
further called Hypogeson, from growing under the eaves ; 
likewise Ambrosia and Ameramnos. The plant is 
indigenous to the Greek Islands, being sometimes 
spoken of as " Imbreke " and " Home Wort." 

It has been largely planted about the roofs of small 
houses throughout the country, particularly in Scotland, 
because supposed to guard against lightning and thunder- 
storms ; likewise as protective against the enchantments 
of sorcerers ; and, in a more utilitarian spirit, as pre- 
servative against decay. Hence the House Leek is 
known as Thunderbeard, and in Germany Donnersbart 
or Donderhloem, from "Jupiter the thunderer." 

The English name House Leek denotes leac (Anglo- 
Saxon) a plant growing on the house ; and another 
appellation of its genus, sedum, comes from the Latin 
sedare, to soothe, and subdue inflammations, etc. 

The thick leaves contain an abundant acidulous 
astringent juice, which is mucilaginous, and affords 
malic acid, identical with that of the Apple. This 
juice, in a dose of from one to three drams, has proved 



useful in dysentery, and in some convulsive diseases. 
Galen extolled it as a capital application for erysipelas 
and shingles. Dioscorides praised it for weak and 
inflamed eyes, but in large doses it is emetic and 

In rural districts the bruised leaves of the fresh 
plant or its juice are often applied to burns, scalds, 
contusions, and sore legs, or to scrofulous ulcers; as 
likewise for chronic skin diseases, and enlarged or 
cancerous lymphatic glands. By the Dutch the leaves 
are cultivated with a dietetic purpose for mixing in their 

With honey the juice assuages the soreness and 
ulcerated condition within the mouth in thrush. 
Gerard says : "The juice being gently rubbed on any 
place stung by nettles, or bees, or bitten by any 
venomous creature, doth presently take away the pain. 
Being applied to the temples and forehead it easeth 
also the headache and distempered heat of the brain 
through want of sleep." 

The juice, moreover, is excellently helpful for curing 
corns and warts, if applied from day to day after thej^ 
have been scraped. As Parkinson teaches, " the juice 
takes away cornes from the toes and feet if they be 
bathed therewith every day, and at night emplastered 
as it were with the skin of the same House Leek." 

The plant may be readily made to cover all the roof 
of a building by sticking on the offsets with a little 
moist earth, or cowdung. It bears purple flowers, and 
its leaves are fringed at their edges, being succulent and 
pulpy. Thus the erect gay-looking blossoms, in con- 
trast to the light green foliage arranged in the form 
of full blown double roses, lend a picturesque appear- 
ance to the roof of even a cow-byre, or a hovel. 



The House Leek {Sedum majas), and the Persicaria 
Water-pepper (Arsmart), if their juices be boiled to- 
gether, will cure a diarrhoea, however obstinate, or 
inveterate. The famous empirical aiUi-Canceroso nostrum 
of Count Mattaei is authoritatively said to consist of the 
Sedum acre (Betony stone-crop), the Semperviviim iedorum 
(House Leek), Sedmn telephiimi (Livelong), the Matricaria 
(Feverfew), and the Nasturtium Sisymhrium (Water- 

The Sedum Telephium (Livelong, or Orpine), called 
also Roseroot and Midsummer Men, is the largest 
British species of Stone-cro[). Being a plant of augury 
its leaves are laid out in pairs on St. John's Eve, these 
being named after courting couples. When the leaves 
are freshly assorted those which keep together promise 
well for their namesakes, and those which fall apart, 
the reverse. 

The special virtues of this Sedum are supposed to 
have been discovered by Telephus, the son of Hercules. 
Napoleon, at St. Helena, was aware of its anti- 
cancerous reputation, which was firmly believed in 
Corsica The plant contains lime, sulphur, ammonia, 
and (perhaps) mercury. It remains long alive when 
hung up in a room. The designation Orpine has 
become perversely applied to this plant which bears 
pink blossoms, the word having been derived from Orpin, 
gold pigment, a yellow sulphuret of the metal arsenic, 
and it should appertain exclusively to yellow flowers. 
The Livelong Sedum was formerly named Life 
Everlasting. It serves to keep away moths. 

Doctors have found that the expulsive vomiting 
provoked by doses of the Sedum acre (Betony stone- 
crop), will serve in diphtheria to remove such false 
membrane clinging in patches to the throat and tonsils, 



as threatens suffocation : and after this release afforded 
by copious vomiting, the diphtheritic foci are pre- 
vented from forming again. 

The Seclmi Acre (or Biting Stone-crop) is also named 
Pepper crop, being a cyme, or head of flowers, which 
furnishes a pungent taste like that of pepper. This 
further bears the names of Ginger (in Norfolk), Jack 
of the Buttery, Gold Dust, Creeping Tom, Wall Pepper, 
Pricket or Prick Madam, Gold Chain, and Biting Mouse 
Tail. It was formerly said " the savages of Caledonia 
use this plant for removing the sloughs of cancer." 

The herb serves admirably to make a gargle for 
scurvy of the gums, and a lotion for scrofulous, or 
syphilitic ulcers. The leaves are thick and very acrid, 
being crowded together. This and the Sedums album 
and reflexum were ingredients in a famous worm- 
expelling medicine, or theriac (treacle), which conferred 
the title "Jack of the Buttery," as a corruption of 
" But. theriaque." 

The several Stone-crops are so named from cro/, 
a top, or bunch of flowers, these plants being found 
chiefly in tufts upon walls or roofs. From their close 
growth originally on their native rocks they have 
acquired the generic title of Sedum, from sedere (to sit). 


The cultivated Hyssop, now of frequent occurrence in 
the herb-bed, and a favourite plant there because of its 
fragrance, belongs to the labiate order, and possesses 
cordial qualities which give it rank as a Simple. It has 
pleasantly odorous striped leaves which vary in colour, 
and possess a camphoraceous odour, with a warm 
aromatic bitter taste. This is of comparatively recent 
introduction into our gardens, not having been cul- 



tivated until Gerard's time, about 1568, and not being 
a native English herb. 

The Ussopos of Dioscorides, was named from a.zob, 
a holy herb, because used for cleansing sacred places. 
Hence it is alluded to in this sense scripturally : "Purge 
me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean : wash me, and I 
shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm ii. 7). Solomon 
wrote " of all trees, from the Cedar in Lebanon to the 
Hyssop that springeth out of the wall." The healing 
virtues of the plant are due to a particular volatile oil 
which admirably promotes expectoration in bronchial 
catarrh and asthma. Hyssop tea is a grateful drink 
well adapted to improve the tone of a feeble stomach, 
being brewed with the green tops of the herb. The 
same parts of the plant are sometimes boiled in soup to 
be given for asthma. The leaves and flowers are of a 
Avarm pungent taste, and of an agreeable aromatic 
smell ; therefore if the tops and blossoms are reduced 
to a powder and added to cold salad herbs they give 
a comforting cordial virtue. 

There Avas formerly made a distilled water of Hyssop, 
which may still be had from some druggists, it being 
deemed a good pectoral medicine. In America an 
infusion of the leaves is used externally for the relief 
of muscular rheumatism, as also for bruises and dis- 
coloured contusions. The herb was sometimes called 
Rosemary in the East, and was hung up to afford 
protection from the evil eye, as well as to guard against 

To make Hyssop tea, one drachm of the herb should 
be infused in a pint of boiling water, and allowed to 
become cool. Then a wineglassful is to be given as a 
dose two or three times in the day. 

Of the essential oil of Hyssop, from one to two drops 



should be the dose. Pliny said : "Hyssop mixed with 
figs, purges ; with honey, vomits." If the herb be 
steeped in boiling water and applied hot to the part, 
it will quickly remove the blackness consequent upon 
a bruise or blow, especially in the case of " black " or 
blood-shot eyes. 

Parkinson says that in his day "the golden hyssop 
was of so pleasant a colour that it provoked every 
gentlewoman to wear them in their heads, and on their 
arms with as much delight as many fine flowers can 
give." The leaves are striped conspicuously with white 
or yellow ; for which reason, and because of their 
fragrance, the herb is often chosen to be planted on 
graves. The green herb, bruised and applied, will heal 
cuts promptly. Its tea will assist in promoting the 
monthly courses for women. Hyssop grows wild in 
middle and southern Europe. 

The Hedge Hyssop (Gratiola officinalis), or Water 
Hyssop, is quite a diff'erent plant from the garden pot- 
herb, and belongs to the scrofula-curing order, with far 
more active medicinal properties than the Hyssop 
proper. The commonly recognized Hedge Hyssop 
bears a pale yellow, or a pale purple flower, like that of 
the Foxglove ; and the whole plant has a very bitter 
taste. A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the 
entire herb, of which from eight to ten drops may be 
taken with a tablespoonful of cold water three times in 
the day. It will aff'ord relief against nervous weakness 
and shakiness, such as occur after an excessive use of 
coff'ee or tobacco. The title " gratiola," is from dei gratia, 
"by the grace of God." 

The juice of the plant purges briskly, and may be 
usefully employed \i\ some forms of dropsy. Its 
decoction is milder of action, and proves beneficial 


in cases of jaundice. In France the plant is cultivated 
as a perfume, and it is said to be an active ingredient 
in the famous Ean mcdidnale for gout. 

Of the dried leaves from five to twenty-five grains 
will act as a drastic vermifuge to expel worms. The 
root resembles ipecacuanha in its effects, and in 
moderate quantities, as a powder or decoction, helps to 
stay bloody fluxes and purgings. The flowers are 
sometimes of a blood-red hue, and the whole plant 
contains a special essential oil. 

"Whoso taketh," says Parkinson, "but one scruple of 
Gratiola (Hedge Hyssop) bruised, shall perceive evidently 
his effectual operation and virtue in purging mightily, 
and that in great abundance, watery, gross, and slimy 
tumours." Cavntt qui f<}iin2) serif. On the principle of 
affinities, small diluted doses of the tincture, or decoction, 
or of the dried leaves, prove curative in cases of fluxes 
from the lower bowels, where irritation within the 
fundament is frequent, and where there is considerable 
nervous exhaustion, especially in chronic cases of this 

IVY, Common (Araliacece), 
The clergyman of fiction in the sixth chapter of 
Dickens' memorable Pickwick, sings certain verses which 
he styles "indifferent" (the only verse, by the way, 
to be found in all that great writer's stories), and which 
relate to the Ivy, beginning thus : — 

" Oh ! <a dainty plant is the Ivy green, 
That creepeth o'er ruins old." 

The well known common Ivy (Hedera helix), wdiich 
clothes the trunks of trees and the walls of old buildings 
so picturesquely throughout Great Britain, gets its 
botanical name most probably from the Celtic word hceclra 



cord," or from the Greek ludra "a seat," because 
sitting close, and its vernacular title from iw "green," 
which is also the parent of "yew." In Latin it is 
tei-med ahiga^ easily corrupted to "iva"; and the Danes 
knew it as A¥inter-grunt, or Winter-green, to which 
appellation it may still lay a rightful claim, being so 
conspicuously green at the coldest times of the year 
when trees are of themselves bare and brown. 

By the ancients the Ivy was dedicated to Bacchus, 
whose statues were crowned with a wreath of the plant, 
under the name Kissos, and whose worshippers decor- 
ated themselves with its garlands. The leaves have a 
peculiar faintly nauseous odour, whilst they are some- 
what bitter, and rough of taste. The fresh berries 
are rather acid, and become bitter when dried. They 
are much eaten by our woodland birds in the spring. 

A crown of Ivy was likewise given to the classic 
poets of distinction, and the Greek priests presented a 
wreath of the same to newly married persons. The 
custom of decorating houses and churches with Ivy at 
Christmastide, was forbidden by one of the early 
councils on account of its Pagan associations. Prynne 
wrote with reference to this decree : — 

" At Christmas men do always Ivy get, 
And in each corneu of the house it set, 
But why maki use then of that Bacchus weed ? 
Because they purpose Bacchus-like to feed." 

The Ivy, though sending out innumerable small 
rootlets, like suckers, in every direction (which are 
really for support) is not a parasite. The plant is 
rooted in the soil and gets its sustenance therefrom. 

Chemically, its medicinal principles depend on the 
special balsamic resin contained in the leaves and 
stems, as well as constituting the aromatic gum. 



Ivy Howers have little or no scent, but their yield of 
nectar is particularly abundant. 

When the bark of the main stems is wounded, a gum 
will exude, and may be collected : it possesses astringent 
and mildly aperient properties. This was at one time 
included as a medicine in the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia^ 
but it has now fallen out of such authoritative use. Its 
chemical principle is " hederin." The gum is anti- 
spasmodic, and promotes the monthly flow of women. 

An infusion of the berries will relieve rheumatism, 
and a decoction of the leaves applied externally will 
destroy vermin in the heads of children. 

Fresh Ivy leaves will afford signal relief to corns 
when they shoot, and are painful. Good John Wesley, 
who dabbled in " domestic medicine," and with much 
sagacity of observation, taught that having bathed the 
feet, and cut the corns, and having mashed some fresh 
Ivy leaves, these are to be applied : then by repeating 
the remedial process for fifteen days the corns will be 

During the Great Plague of London, Ivy berries were 
given with some success as possessing antiseptic virtues, 
and to induce perspiration, thus effecting a remission of 
the symptoms. Cups made from Ivy wood have been 
employed from which to drink for disorders of the 
spleen, and for whooping cough, their method of use 
being to be kept refilled from time to time with water 
(cold or hot), which the patient is to constantly sip. 

Ivy gum dissolved in vinegar is a good filling for a 
hollow tooth which is causing neuralgic toothache : and 
an infusion of the leaves made with cold water, will, 
after standing for twenty-four hours, relieve sore and 
smarting eyes if used rather frequently as a lotion. A 
decoction of the leaves and berries will mitigate a 



severe headache, such as that which follows hard 
drinking over night. And it may have come about 
that from some rude acquaintance with this fact the 
bacchanals adopted goblets carved out of Ivywood. 

This plant is especially haidy, and suffers but little 
from the smoke and the vitiated air of a manufacturing 
town. Chemically, such medicinal principles as the Ivy 
possesses depend on the special balsamic resin contained 
in its leaves and stems ; as well as on its particular 
gum. Bibulous old Bacchus was always represented in 
classic sculpture with a wreath of Ivy round his laughing 
brows ; and it has been said that if the foreheads of 
those whose potations run deep were bound with front- 
lets of Ivy the nemesis of headache would be prevented 
thereby. But legendary lore teaches rather that the 
infant Bacchus was an object of vengeance to Juno, and 
that the nymphs of Nisa concealed him from her wrath, 
with trails of Ivy as he lay in his cradle. 

At one time our taverns bore over their doors the 
sign of an Ivybush, to indicate the excellence of the 
liquor supplied within. From which fact arose the 
saying that "good wine needs no bush," " Finum 
vendihile hederd non est ojms.''' And of this text Rosalind 
cleverly avails herself in As You Like It, "If it be 
true " says she, " that good wine needs no bush,"— 
" 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue." 

IVY (Ground). 

This common, and very familiar little herb, with its 
small Ivy-like aromatic leaves, and its striking whorls of 
dark blue blossoms conspicuous in early spring time, 
comes into flower pretty punctually about the third or 
fourth of April, however late or early the season may 
be. Its name is attributed to the resemblance borne 



by its foliage to that of the true Ivy (Hedera helix). 
The whole plant possesses a balsamic odour, and an 
aromatic taste, due to its particular volatile oil, and its 
characteristic resin, as a fragrant labiate herb. It 
remaineth green not only in summer, but also in winter, 
. at all times of the year. 

From the earliest days it has been thought endowed 
with singular curative virtues chiefly against nervous 
headaches, and for the relief of chronic bronchitis. Ray 
tells of a remarkable instance in the person of a Mr. 
Oldacre who was cured of an obstinate chronic head- 
ache by using the juice or the powdered leaves of the 
Ground Ivy as snuff: Saccns livjus 2)l(inta} narihus attradus 
cephalalgiam etiam vehementissiniam et inveteratam non Unit 
tantum, sed et penitus aufert ; and he adds in further 
praise of the herb: Medicamentum hoc nm satis potest 
laudari ; si res ef nsu (estimarentur, auro cequipamndum. 
An infusion of the fresh herb, or, if made in winter, 
from its dried leaves, and drank under the name of 
Gill tea, is a favourite remedy with the poor foi- 
coughs of long standing, accompanied with much 
phlegm. One ounce of the herb should be infused in ;i 
pint of boiling water, and a wineglassful of this when 
cool is to be taken three or four times in the day. 
The botanical name of the plant is Nepeta glechoma, 
from Nepei, in Tuscany, and the Greek gleechon, a 

Resembling Ivy in miniature, the leaves have been used 
in weaving chaplets for the dead, as well as for adorn- 
ing the Alestake erected as a sign at taverns. For this 
reason, and because formerly in vogue for clearing the 
ale drank by our Saxon ancestors, the herb acquired the 
names of Ale hoof, and Tun hoof ("tun" signifying ;i 
garden, and "hoof" or "hufe" a coronal or chaplet), 


or Hove, "because," says Pcirkinson, "it spreadeth as a 
garland upon the ground." Other titles which have 
a like meaning are borne by the herb, such as " Gill 
go by the ground," and Haymaids, or Hedgemaids ; 
the word "gill" not only relating to the fermenta- 
tion of beer, but meaning also a maid. This is shown 
in the saying, "Every Jack should have his Gill, or 
Jill" ; and the same notion was conveyed by the 
sobriquet "haymaids." Again in some districts the 
Ground Ivy is called "Lizzy run up the hedge," "Cat's- 
foot" (from the soft flower heads), "Devil's candlesticks," 
" AUer," and in Germany " Thundervine," also in the 
old English manuscripts " Ilayhouse," " Halehouse," 
and " Horshone." The whole plant was employed by 
our Saxon progenitors to clarify their so-called beer, 
before hops had been introduced for this purpose ; and 
the place of refreshment where the beverage was sold 
bore the name of a " Gill house." 

In A Thousand Notable Things, it is stated, "The juice of 
Ground Ivy sniffed up into the nostrils out of a spoon, 
or a saucer, purge th the head marvellously, and taketh 
away the greatest and oldest pain thereof that is : 
the medicine is worth gold, though it is very cheap." 

Small hairy tumours may often be seen in the 
autumn on the leaves of the Ground Ivy occasioned 
(says Miss Pratt) by the punctures of the cynips 
glechomce from which these galls spring. They have 
a strong flavour of the plant, and are sometimes eaten 
by the peasantry of France. The volatile oil on which 
the special virtues of the Ground Ivy depend exudes 
from small glandular dots on the under surface of the 
leaves. This is the active ingredient of Gill tea made 
by country persons, and sweetened with honey, sugar, 
or liquorice. Also the expressed juice of the herb is 



equally effectual, being diaphoretic, diuretic, and some- 
what astringent against bleedings. 

Gerard says that in his day "the Ground Ivy was 
commended against the humming sound, and ringing 
noises of the ears by being put into them, and for those 
that are hard of hearing. Also boiled in mutton broth 
it helpeth weak and aching backs." Dr. Thornton tells 
us in his Herbal (1810) that "Ground Ivy was at one 
time amongst the * cries ' of London, for making a tea 
to purify the blood," and Dr. Pitcairn extolled this 
plant before all other vegetable medicines for the cure 
of consumption. Perhaps the name Ground Ivy was 
transferred at first to the Nepeta from the Periwinkle, 
about which we read in an old distich of Stockholm : — 

' ' Parvenke is an erbe green of colour, 
In time of May he bereth bio flour, 
His stalkes are so feynt and feye 
That nevermore groweth he heye : 
On the grounde he rynneth and growe 
As doth the erbe that hyth tunhowe ; 
The lef is thicke, schinende and styf 
As is the grene Ivy leef : 
Uniche brod, and nerhand rownde ; 
Men call it the Ivy of the grounde.''' 

In the Organic Materia Medica of Detroit, U.S.A., 
1890, it is stated, "Painters use the Ground Ivy 
{Nepeta gleclioma) as a remedy for, and a preventive of 
lead colic." An infusion is given (the ounce to a pint 
of boiling water) — one wineglassf ul for a dose repeatedly. 
In the relief which it affords as a snuff made from 
the dried leaves to congestive headache of a passive 
continued sort, this 1)enefit is most probably due partly 
to the special titillating aroma of the plant, and partly 
to the copious defluxion of mucus and tears from the 
nasal passages, and the eyes. 



The wild Saint John's Wort {Hypericum perforatum) is a 
frequent plant in our woods and hedgebanks, having 
leaves studded with minute translucent vesicles, which 
seem to perforate their structure, and which contain a 
terebinthinate oil of fragrant medicinal virtues. 

The name Hypericum is derived from the two Greek 
words, Imper eiJcon, "over an apparition," because of its 
supposed power to exorcise evil spirits, or influences ; 
whence it was also formerly called Fitga dwmouionm, 
"the Devil's Scourge," "the Grace of God," "the Lord 
God's Wonder Plant," and some other names of a like 
import, probably too, because found to be of curative use 
against insanity. Again, it used to be entitled Hexenkraut, 
and "Witch's Herb," on account of its reputed magical 
powers. Matthiolus said, Scripsere qiiidam Hypericum 
adeo odisse dcemones, ut ejus suffitu statim avolent, "Certain 
writers have said that the St. John's Wort is so detested 
by evil spirits that they fly off at a whiff" of its odour." 

Further names of the herb are "Amber," "Hundred 
Holes," and Sol terrestris, the "Terrestrial Sun," because 
it was believed that all the spirits of darkness vanish 
in its presence, as at the rising of the sun. 

For children troubled with incontinence of urine at 
night, and who wet their beds, an infusion, or tea, of the 
St. John's Wort is an admirable preventive medicine, 
which will stop this untoward infirmity. 

The title St. John's Wort is given, either because the 
plant blossoms about St. John's day, June 24th, or 
because the red-coloured sap which it furnishes was 
thought to resemble and signalise the blood of St. John 
the Baptist. Ancient writers certainly attributed a host 
of virtues to this plant, especially for the cure of 
hypochondriasis, and insanity. The red juice, or "red 



oil," of Hypericuia made effective by hanging for some 
months in a glass vessel exposed to the sun, is esteemed 
as one of the most popular and curative applications in 
Europe for excoriations, wounds, and bruises. 

The flowers also when rubbed together between the 
fingers yield a red juice, so that the plant has obtained 
the title of Sanguis hominis, human blood. Further- 
more, this herb is Medicamentum in mansdintus sumptumy 
"to be chewed for its curative effects." 

And for making a medicinal infusion, an ounce of the 
herb should be used to a pint of boiling water. This 
may be given beneficially for chronic catarrhs of the 
lungs, the bowels, or the urinary passages. Dr. Tuthill 
Massy considered the St. John's Wort, by virtue of its 
healing properties for injuries of the spinal cord, and its 
dependencies, the vulnerary " arnica " of the organic 
nervous system. On the doctrine of signatures, because 
of its perforated leaves, and because of the blood- red 
juice contained in the capsules which it bears, this plant 
was formerly deemed a most excellent specific for heal- 
ing wounds, and for stopping a flow of blood : — 

" Hypericon was there — the herb of war, 
Pierced through with wounds, and seamed with many a scar." 

For lacerated nerves, and injuries by violence to the 
spinal cord, a warm lotion should be employed, made 
with one part of the tincture to twenty parts of water, 
comfortably hot. A salve compounded from the 
flowers, and known as St. John's Wort Salve, is still 
much used and valued in English villages. And in 
several countries the dew which has fallen on vegetation 
before daybreak on St. John's morning, is gathered with 
great care. It is thought to protect the eyes from all 
harm throughout the ensuing year, and the Venetians 



say it renews the roots of the hair on the baldest of 
heads. Peasants in the Isle of Man, are wont to think 
that if anyone treads on the St. John's Wort after sun- 
set, a fairy horse will arise from the earth, and will 
carry him about all night, leaving him at sunrise 
wherever he may chance to be. 

The plant has a somewhat aromatic odour ; and from 
the leaves and flowers, when crushed, a lemon-like scent 
is exhaled, whilst their taste is bitter and astringent. 
The flowers furnish for fabrics of silk or wool a dye 
of deep yellow. These parts of the plant were alone 
ordered by the London Pharinacopceia to be used for 
supplying in chief the medicinal, oily, resinous extrac- 
tive of the plant. 

The juice gives a red colour to the spirit of wine 
with which it is mixed, and to expressed oils, being 
then known as the Hypericum "red oil" mentioned 
above. The flowers contain tannin, and Hypericum 

Moreover, this Hypericum oil made from the tops 
is highly useful for healing bed sores, and is com- 
mended as excellent for ulcers. A medicinal tincture 
(H.) is prepared with spirit of wine from the entire 
fresh plant, collected when flowering, or in seed, 
and this proves of capital service for remedying in- 
juries to the spinal cord, both by being given internally, 
and by its external use. It has been employed in 
like manner with benefit for lock-jaw. The dose of the 
tincture is from five to eight drops with a spoonful of 
water two or three times a day. 

This plant may be readily distinguished from others 
of the Hypericaceous order by its decidedly two edged 
stem. Sprigs of it are stuck at the present time in Wales 
over every outer door on the eve of St. John's day ; 




and in Scotland, milking is done on the herb to dispel 
the malignant enchantments which cause ropy milk. 

Among the Christian saints St. John represents light; 
and the flov/ers of this plant were taken as a reminder 
of the beneficent sun. 

Tutsan is a large flowered variety (Hypericim 
amhos(emitni) of the St. John's Wort, named from the 
French tontr mim, or "heal all," because of its many 
curative virtues; and is common in Devon and Cornwall. 
It possesses the same properties as the perforate sort, 
but yields a stronger and more camphoraceous odour 
when the flowers and the seed vessels are bruised. A 
tincture made from this plant, as well as that made from 
the perforate St. John's Wort, has been used with suc- 
cess to cure melancholia, and its allied forms of insanity. 
The seed-capsules of the Tutsan are glossy and berry- 
like ; the leaves retain their strong resinous odour after 
being dried. 

Tutsan is called also provincially "Woman's Tongue," 
once set g(r)owing it never stops ; and by country folk 
in Ireland the " Rose of Sharon." Its botanical name 
Androsoemum, andros aiina, man's blood, derived from 
the red juice and oil, probably suggested the popular 
title of Tutsan, "heal all," often corrupted to 
*'Touchen leaf." 

Gerard gives a receipt, as a great secret, for making a 
compound oil of Hijpericum, " than which," he says, " I 
know that in the world there is no better ; no, not the 
natural balsam itself." "The plant," he adds, " is a 
singular remedy for the sciatica, provided that the 
patient drink water for a day or two after purging." 
"The leaves laid upon broken shins and scabbed legs do 
heal them." 

The whole plant is of a special value for healing 


punctured wounds ; and its leaves are diuretic. It is 
handsome and shrubby, growing to a height of two or 
three feet. 


The Juniper shrub (Arkenthos of the ancients), which 
is widely distributed about the Avorld, grows not un- 
commonly in England as a stiff evergreen conifer on 
heathy ground, and bears bluish purple berries. These 
have a sweet, juicy, and, presently, bitter, brown 
pulp, containing three seeds, and they do not ripen 
until the second year. The flowers blossom in May 
and June, Probably the shrub gets its name from 
the Celtic jenepnis, "rude or rough." Gerard notes 
that "it grows most commonly very low, like unto our 
ground furzes." Gum Sandarach, or Pounce, is the 
product of this tree. 

Medicinally, the berries and the fragrant tops are 
employed. They contain "juniperin," sugar, resins, wax, 
fat, formic and acetic acids, and malates. The fresh 
tops have a balsamic odour, and a carminative, bitterish 
taste. The berries aflbrd a yellow aromatic oil, which 
acts on the kidneys, and gives cordial warmth to 
the stomach. Forty berries should yield an ounce 
of the oil. Steeped in alcohol the berries make 
a capital ratafia ; they are used in several confec- 
tions, as well as for flavouring gin, being put into 
a spirit more common than the true geneva of 
Holland. The French obtain from these berries the 
Genievre (Anglice "geneva"), from which we have taken 
our English word "gin." In France, Savoy, and Italy, 
the bei-ries are largely collected, and are sometimes 
eaten as such, fifteen or twenty at a time, to stimulate 
the kidneys ; or they are taken in powder for the same 


purpose. Being fragrant of smell, they have a warm, 
sweet, pungent flavour, which becomes bitter on further 

Our British Phamiacopma orders a spirit of Juniper 
to be made for producing the like diuretic action in 
some forms of dropsy, so as to carry off* the eff'used fluid 
by the kidneys. A teaspoonful of this spirit may be 
taken, well diluted with water, several times in the 
day. Of the essential oil the dose is from two to three 
drops on sugar, or with a tablespoonful of milk. These 
remedies are of service also in catarrh of the urinary 
passages ; and if applied externally to painful local 
swellings, whether rheumatic, or neuralgic, the bruised 
berries aff'ord prompt and lasting relief. 

An infusion or decoction of the Juniper wood is 
sometimes given for the same aff"ections, but less usefully, 
because the volatile oil becomes dissipated by the boiling 
heat. A "rob," or inspissated juice of the berries, is 
likewise often employed. Gerard said : " A decoction 
thereof is singular against an old cough." Gin is an 
ordinary malt spirit distilled a second time, with the 
addition of some Juniper berries. Formerly these 
berries were added to the malt in grinding, so that the 
spirit obtained therefrom was flavoured with the berries 
from the first, and surpassed all that could be made by 
any other method. At present gin is cheaply manu- 
factured by leaving out the berries altogether, and 
giving the spirit a flavour by distilling it with a 
proportion of oil of turpentine, which resembles the 
Juniper berries in taste ; and as this sophistication is 
less practised in Holland than elsewhere, it is best to 
order " Hollands," with water, as a drink for dropsical 
persons. By the use of Juniper berries Dr. Mayern 
cured some patients who were deplorably ill with 


epilepsy when all other remedies had failed. " Let the 
patient carry a bag of these berries about with him, and 
eat from ten to twenty every morning for a month or 
more, whilst fasting." Similarly for flatulent indigestion 
the berries may be most usefully given ; on the first 
day, four berries; on the second, five; on the third, six; 
on the fourth, seven ; and so on until twelve days, and 
fifteen berries are reached ; after this the daily dose 
should be reduced by one berry until only five are taken 
in the day; which makes an admirable 'berry-cure.'" 
The berries are to be well masticated, and the husks 
may be afterwards either rejected or swallowed. 

Juniper oil, used officinally, is distilled from the full- 
grown, unripe, green fruit. The Laplanders almost 
adore the tree, and they make a decoction of its ripe 
berries, when dried, to be drunk as tea, or coffee ; whilst 
the Swedish peasantry prepare from the fresh berries 
a fermented beverage, which they drink cold, and an 
extract, which they eat with their bread for breakfast 
as we do butter. 

Simon Pauli assures us these berries have performed 
wonders in curing the stone, he having personally 
treated cases thus, with incredible success. Schroder 
knew a nobleman of Germany, who freed himself from 
the intolerable symptoms of stone, by a constant use 
of these berries. Evelyn called them the " Forester's 
Panacea," " one of the most universal remedies in the 
world to our crazy Forester." Astrological botanists 
advise to pull the berries when the sun is in Virgo. 

We read in an old tract (London, 1682) on The use of 
Juniper and Elder berries in our Puhlick Houses : " The 
simple decoction of these berries, sweetened with a 
little sugar candy, will afford liquors so pleasant to the 
eye, so grateful to the palate, and so beneficial to the 



body, that the wonder is they have not been courted 
and ushered into our Publick Houses, so great are the 
extraordinary beauty and vertues of these berries." 
"One ounce, well cleansed, bruised, and mashed, will 
be enough for almost a pint of water. When they are 
boiled together the vessel must be carefully stopt, and 
after the boiling is over one tablespoonful of sugar 
candy must be put in." 

From rifts which occur spontaneously in the bark of 
the shrubs in warm countries issues a gum resembling 
frankincense. This gum, as Gerard teaches, "drieth 
ulcers which are hollow, and filleth them with flesh if 
they be cast thereon." "Being mixed with oil of roses, 
it healeth chaps of the hands and feet." Bergius said 
the lignum (wood) of Juniper is diureficum, sudorificum, 
mundificans ; the harm (berry), diuretica, nutriens, diapJio- 
retica." In Germany the berries are added to muerhraut 
for flavouring it. 

Virgil thought the odour exhaled by the Juniper tree 
noxious, and he speaks of the JnniperU gravis umbra: — 

" Surgamus! solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra; 
Juniperis gravis umbra ; nocent et frugibus umbrse." 

Eclog. X. V. 75. 

But it is more scientific to suppose that the groAvth of 
Juniper trees should be encouraged near dwellings, 
because of the balsamic and antiseptic odours which 
they constantly exhale. The smoke of the leaves and 
wood was formerly believed to drive away " all in- 
fection and corruption of the aire which bringeth the 
plague, and such like contagious diseases." 

Sprays of Juniper are frequently strewn over floors 
of apartments, so as to give out when trodden down, 
their agreeable odour which is supposed to promote 


sleep. Queen Elizabeth's bedchamber was sweetened 
with their fumes. In the French hospitals it is 
customary to burn Juniper berries with Rosemary for 
correcting vitiated air, and to prevent infection. 

On the Continent the Juniper is regarded with much 
veneration, because it is thought to have saved the life 
of the Madonna, and of the infant Jesus, whom she hid 
under a Juniper bush when flying into Egypt from the 
assassins of Herod. 

Virgil alludes to the Juniper as Cedar : — 

" Disce et odoratam stabulis accendere cedrum." 


" But learn to bum within your sheltering rooms 
Sweet Juniper." 

Its powerful odour is thought to defeat the keen 
scent of the hound ; and a hunted hare when put tO' 
extremities will seek a safe retreat under cover of its 
branches. Elijah was sheltered from the persecutions 
of King Ahab by the Juniper tree ; since which time it 
has been always regarded as an asylum, and a symbol of 

From the wood of the Junijperus oxyaeclrus, an 
empyreumatic oil resembling liquid pitch, is obtained 
by dry distillation, this being named officinally, Huile de 
cade, or Oleum cadinum, otherwise "Juniper tar." It is 
found to be most useful as an external stimulant for 
curing psoriasis and chronic eczema of the skin. A 
recognised ointment is made with this and yellow wax, 
Uiigueiitim olei cadini. 

In Italy stables are popularly thought to be protected 
by a sprig of Juniper from demons and thunderbolts, 
just as we suppose the magic horseshoe to be protective 
to our houses and offices. 



KNAPWEED (The Lesser). 

Black Knapweed, the Centaurea 7iigra, is a common 
tough-stemmed composite weed growing in our meadows 
and cornfields, being well known by its heads of dull 
purple flowers, with brown, or almost black scales of 
the outer floral encasement. It is popularly called 
Hard heads, Loggerheads, Iron heads. Horse knob, and 
Bull weed. 

Dr. Withering relates that a decoction made from these 
hard heads has afforded at least a temporary relief 
in cases of diabetes mellitus, "by diminishing the 
quantity of urine, and dispelling the sweetness." 

Its chief chemical constituent enicin, is identical with 
that of the Blessed thistle, and the Blue bottle, and 
closely resembles that of the Dandelion. It has been 
found useful in sLrengthless indigestion, especially when 
this is complicated with sluggish torpor of the liver. 
From half to one ounce of the herb may be boiled in 
eight fluid ounces of water, and a small wineglassful be 
taken for a dose twice or three times a day. In Bucks 
young women make use of this Knapweed for love 
divination : — 

" They pull the little blossom threads 
From out the Knotweed's button beads, 
And put the husk with many a smile 
In their white bosoms for a while ; 
Then, if they guess aright, the swain 
Their love's sweet fancies try to gain, 
'Tis said that ere it lies an hour 
'Twill blossom with a second flower." 


The Lavender of our gardens, called also Lavender 
Spike, is a well-known sweet-smelling shrub, of the 
Labiate order. It grows wild in Spain, Piedmont, and 



the south of France, on waysides, mountains, and in 
barren places. The plant was propagated by slips, or 
cuttings, and has been cultivated in England since about 
1568. It is produced largely for commercial purposes 
in Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Lincoln. The shrub is set 
in long rows occupying fields, and yields a profitable 
fragrant essential oil from the flowering tops, about one 
ounce of the oil from sixty terminal flowering spikes. 
From these tops also the popular cosmetic lavender 
water is distilled. They contain tannin, and a resinous 
camphire, which is common to most of the mints aff'ord- 
ing essential oils. If a hank of cotton is steeped in the 
oil of Lavender, and drained off so as to be hung dry 
about the neck, it will prevent bugs and other noxious 
insects from attacking that part. When mixed with 
three-fourths of spirit of turpentine, or spirit of wine, this 
oil makes the famous Oleum sjjim, formerly much cele- 
brated for curing old sprains and stifl" joints. Lavender 
oil is likewise of service when rubbed in externally, for 
stimulating paralysed limbs — preferring the sort distilled 
from the flowering tops to that which is obtained from 
the stalks. Internally, the essential oil, or a spirit of 
Lavender made therefrom, proves admirably restorative 
and tonic against faintness, palpitations of a nervous 
sort, weak giddiness, spasms, and colic. It is agreeable 
to the taste and smell, provokes appetite, raises the 
spirits, and dispels flatulence ; but the infusion of 
Lavender tops, if taken too freely, will cause griping, 
and colic. In hysteria, palsy, and similar disorders of 
debility, and lack of nerve power, the spirit of Lavender 
will act as a powerful stimulant; and fomentations with 
Lavender in bags, applied hot, will speedily relieve local 
p.iins. "Itprofiteth them much," says Gerard, "that 
have the palsy if they be washed with the distilled water 


from the L'lvender flowers ; or are anointed with the oil 
made from the fiowers and olive oil, in such manner as 
oil of roses is used." A dose of the oil is from one to 
four drops on sugar, or on a small piece of bread crumb, 
or in a spoonful or two of milk. And of the spirit, from 
half to one teaspoonful may be taken with two table- 
spoonfuls of water, hot or cold, or of milk. The spirit 
of Lavender is made with one part of the essential oil to 
forty-nine parts of spirit of wine. For preparing distilled 
Lavender water, the addition of a small quantity of musk 
does much to develop the strengt.h of the Lavender's 
odour and fragrance. The essential oil of Lavandula 
latifolia, admirably promotes the growth of the hair 
when weakly, or falling off. 

By the Greeks the name Nardus is given to Lavender, 
from Naarda, a city of Syria, near the Euphrates ; and 
many persons call the plant " Nard." St. Mark men- 
tions this as Spikenard, a thing of great value The 
woman who came to Christ having an alabaster box 
of ointment of Spikenard, very precious " brake the 
box, and poured it on His head." In Pliny's time blos- 
soms of the nardus sold for a hundred Koman denarii 
(or £o 2s. 6d.) the pound. This Lavender or Nardus, 
was likewise called Asarum by the Romans, because 
not used in garlands or chaplets. It was formerly 
believed that the asp, a dangerous kind of viper, 
made Lavender its habitual place of abode, so that 
the plant had to be approached with great caution. 

Conserves of Lavender were much used in the time 
of Gerard, and desserts may be most pleasantly Inought 
to the table on a service of Lavender spikes. It is said, 
on good authority, that the lions and tigers in our 
Zoological gardens, are powerfully affected by the smell 
of Lavender-water and become docile under its influence. 


The Lavender shrub takes its name from the Latin 
lavare, "to wash," because the ancients employed it as a 
perfume. Lavender tops, when dried, and placed with 
linen, will preserve it from moths and other insects. 

The whole plant was at one time considered indispens- 
able in Africa, ubi lavandis corporihus Lijhes ed utnidiir ; nec 
nisi decocto ejus abhiti mane doriio egrediimtur, " where the 
Libyans make use of it for washing their bodies, nor 
ever leave their houses of a morning until purified by a 
decoction of the plant." 

In this country the sweet-smelling herb is often intro- 
duced for scenting newly washed linen when it is put 
by; from which custom has arisen the expression, "To 
be laid up in Lavender." During the twelfth century 
a washerwoman was called "Lavender," in the North 
of England. 

A tea brewed from the flowers is an excellent remedy 
for headache from fatigue, or weakness. But Lavender 
oil is, in too large a dose, a narcotic poison, and causes 
death by convulsions. The tincture of red Lavender is 
a popular medicinal cordial ; and is composed of the oils 
of Lavender and rosemary, with cinnamon bark, nutmeg, 
and red sandal wood, macerated in spirit of wine for 
seven days; then a teaspoonful may be given for a dose 
in a little water, with excellent effect, after an indigest- 
ible meal, taking the dose immediately when feeling 
uneasy, and repeating it after half-an-hour if needed. 
An old form of this compound tincture Avas formerly 
famous as "Palsy Drops," it being made from the 
Lavender, with rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, red sandal 
wood, and spirit. In some cases of mental depression 
and delusions the oil of Lavender proves of real service ; 
and a few drops of it rubbed on the temples will cure 
nervous headache. 



Shakespeare makes Perdita {JVinter^s 'Tale) class 
Lavender among the flowers denoting middle age : 

** Here's flowers for you, 
Hot Lavender : Mints: Savory: Marjoram; 
The Marigold that goes to bed with the sun, 
And with him rises, weeping: these are the flowers 
Of middle summer, and I think they are given 
To men of middle age." 

There is a broad-leaved variety of the Lavender shrub 
in France, which yields three times as much of the 
essential oil as can be got from our narrow-leaved plant, 
but of a second rate quality. 

The Sea Lavender, or Thrift (Statice limonium) grows 
near the sea, or in salt marshes. It gets its name Siaticc, 
from the Greek word ideemi (to stop, or stay), because 
of its medicinal power to arrest bleeding. This is the 
marsh Rosemary, or Ink Root, which contains (if the 
root be dried in the air) from fourteen to fifteen per cent, 
of tannin. Therefore, its infusion or tincture will prove 
highly useful to control bleeding from the lungs or 
kidneys, as also against dysentery ; and when made into 
a gargle, for curing an ulcerated sore throat. 


The Lemon (Citrus Limonum) is so common of use in 
admixing refreshing drinks, and for its fragrancy of peel, 
whether for culinary flavour, or as a delightful perfume, 
that it may well find a place among the Simples of a 
sagacious housevvife. Moreover, the imported fruit, 
which abounds in our markets, as if to the manner born, 
is endowed with valuable medicinal properties which 
additionally qualify it for the domestic Herharium. The 
Lemons brought to England come chiefly from Sicily, 



through Messina and Palermo. Flowers may be found 
on the lemon tree all the year round. 

In making lemonade it is a mistake to pour boiling 
water upon sliced Lemons, because thus brewing an 
infusion of the peel, which is medicinal. The juice 
should be squeezed into cold water (previously boiled), 
adding to a quart of the same the juice of three lemons, 
a few crushed strawberries, and the cut up rind of one 

This fruit grows specially at Mcntone, in the south of 
France ; and a legend runs that Eve carried two or three 
Lemons with her away from Paradise, wandering about 
until she came to Mentone, which she found to be so 
like the Garden of Eden that she settled there, and 
planted her fruit. 

The special dietetic value of Lemons consists in their 
potash salts, the citrate, malate, and tartrate, which are 
respectively antiscorbutic, and of assistance in promoting 
biliary digestion. Each fluid ounce of the fresh juice 
contains about forty-four grains of citric acid, with gum^ 
sugar, and a residuum, which yields, when incinerated, 
potash, lime, and phosphoric acid. But the citric acid 
of the shops is not nearly so preventive or curative of 
scurvy as the juice itself. 

The exterior rind furnishes a grateful aromatic bitter ; 
and our word " zest " signifies really a chip of lemon 
peel or orange peel used for giving flavour to liquor. It 
comes from the Greek verb, "sHigm," to divide, or 
cut up. 

The juice has certain sedative properties whereby it 
allays hysterical palpitation of the heart, and alleviates 
pain caused by cancerous ulceration of the tongue. Dr. 
Brandini, of Florence, discovered this latter property of 
fresh Lemon juice, through a patient who, Avhen suffering 



grievously from that dire disease, found marvellous 
relief to the part by casually sucking a lemon to slake 
his feverish thirst. But it is a remarkable fact that the 
acid of Lemons is harmful and obnoxious to cats, rabbits, 
and other small animals, because it lowers the heart's 
action in these creatures, and liquifies the blood; whereas, 
in man it does not diminish the coagulability of the 
blood, but proves more useful than any other agent 
in correcting that thin impoverished liquidity thereof 
which constitutes scurvy. Kapin extols lemons, or 
citrons, for discomfort of the heart : — 

" Into an oval form the citrons rolled 
Beneath thick coats their juicy pulp unfold : 
From some the palate feels a poignant smart, 
Which, though they wound the tongue, yet heal the heart.'' 

Throughout Italy, and at Kome, a decoction of 
fresh Lemons is extolled as a specific against inter- 
mittent fever ; for which purpose a fresh unpeeled 
Lemon is cut into thin slices, and put into an 
earthenware jar Avith three breakfastcupfuls of cold 
water, and boiled down to one cupful, which is 
strained, the lemon being squeezed, and the decoction 
being given shortly before the access of fever is 

For a restless person of ardent temperament and 
active plethoric circulation, a Lemon squash (un- 
sweetened) of not more than half a tumblerful is a 
capital sedative ; or, a whole lemon may be made hot 
on the oven top, being turned from time to time, and 
being put presently when soft and moist into a teacup, 
then by stabbing it a1)out the juice will be made to 
escape, and should be drunk hot. If bruised together 
with a sufficient quantity of sugar the pips of a fresh 
Lemon or Orange will serve admirably against worms in 



children. Cut in slices and put into the morning bath, 
a Lemon makes it fragrant and doubly refreshing. 

Professor Wilhelm Schmole, a German doctor, has 
published a work of some note, in which he advances 
the theory that fresh Lemon juice is a kind of elixir 
vike ; and that if a sufficient number of Lemons be taken 
daily, life may be indefinitely prolonged. Lemon juice 
is decidedly beneficial against jaundice from passive 
sluggishness of the biliary functions ; it will often serve 
to stay Ijleedings, when ice and astringent styptics have 
failed ; it will prove useful when swallowed freely 
against immoderately active monthly fluxes in women ; 
and when applied externally it signally relieves 
cutaneous itching, especially of the genitals. 

Prize-fighters refresh themselves with a fresh cut 
Lemon between the rounds when competing in the Ring. 
Hence has arisen the common saying, " Take a suck of 
the Lemon, and at him again." 

For a relaxed sore throat, Lemon juice will help to 
make a serviceable gargle. By the heat of the sun it 
may be reduced to a solid state. For a cold in the head, 
if the juice of a ripe Lemon be squeezed into the palm of 
the hand, and strongly sniffed into the nostrils at two or 
three separate times, a cure will be promoted. Roast 
fillet of veal, with stuffing and lemon juice, w^as beloved 
by Oliver Cromwell. 

For heartburn which comes on without having eaten 
sweet things, it is helpful to suck a thin slice of fresh 
Lemon dipped in salt just after each meal. 

The Chinese practice of rubbing parts severely 
neuralgic with the wet surface of a cut Lemon is highly 
useful. This fruit has been sold within present recollec- 
tion at half-a-crown each, and during the American war 
at five shillings. 



The hands may be made white, soft, and supple by 
daily sponging them with fresh Lemon juice, which 
further keeps the nails in good order ; and the same 
may be usefully applied to the roots of the hair for 
removing dandriff from the scalp. 

The Candied Peel which we employ as a confection is 
got from one of the citrons (a variety of the lemon) ; 
whilst another of this tiibe is esteemed for religious 
purposes in Jewish synagogues. These citrons are im- 
ported into England from the East ; and for unblemished 
specimens of the latter Avhich reach London, high prices 
are paid. One pound sterling is a common sum, and 
not infrequently as much as seventy shillings are given 
for a single " Citron of Law." The fruit is used at the 
Feast of Tabernacles according to a command given in 
the Book of the Law ; it is not of an edible nature, but is 
handed round and smelt by the worshippers as they go 
out, when they " thank God for all good things, and for 
the sweet odours He has given to men." This citron 
is considered to be almost miraculously restorative, 
especially by those who regard it as the " tappnach," 
intended in the text, " Comfort me with apples." 
Ladies of the Orient, even now, carry a piece of its 
rind about them in a vinaigrette. 

The citron which furnishes Candied Peel resembles a 
large juicy lemon, but without a nipple. 

Virgil said of the fruit generally : — 

" Media fert tristes succos, tardumque saporem 
Felicis mali." 

Fresh^ Lemon juice will not keep because of its 
mucilage, which soon ferments. 

Sidney Smith, in writing about Foston, his remote 
Country Cure in Yorkshire, said it is " twelve miles from 
a Lemon." 




Among the leguminous plants which supply food for 
the invalid, and are endowed with certain qualifications 
for correcting the health, may be justly placed the 
Lentil, though we have to import it because our moist, 
cold climate is not favourable for its growth. 
Nevertheless, it closely resembles the small purple vetch 
of our summer hedgerows at home. In France its pulse 
is much eaten during Lent — which season takes its 
name, as some authors suppose, from this penitential 
plant. Men become under its subduing dietary 
influence, lenti et hues.'' The plant is cultivated 
freely in Egypt for the sake of the seeds, which are 
flat on both sides, growing in numerous pods. 

The botanical name is Ervum lens ; and about the year 
1840 a Mr. Wharton sold the flour of Lentils under the 
name of Ervalenta, this being then of a primrose colour. 
He failed in his enterprise, and Du Barry took up the 
business, but substituting the red Arabian Lentil for the 
yellow German pulse. 

Joseph's mess of pottage which he sold to Esau for 
his birthright was a preparation of the red Lentil : and 
the same fojcl was the bread of Ezekiel. 

The legumin contained in this vegetable is very light 
and sustaining, but it is apt to form unwholesome 
combinations with any earthy salts taken in othei- 
articles of food, or in the water used in cooking ; there- 
fore Lemon juice or vinegar is a desirable addition to 
Lentils at table. This is because of the phosphates 
contained so abundantly, and liable to become deposited 
in the urine. " Lentils," says Gerard, " are singular 
good to stay the menses." They are traditionally 
regarded as funeral plants, and formerly they were 
forbidden at sacrifices and feasts. 



Parkinson said, "The country people sow it in the 
fields as food for their cattle, and call it ' tills leaving 
out the ' lent ', as thinking that word agreeth not with 
the matter." " Ita sus Minervam." In Hampshire the 
plant is known as " tils," and in Oxfordshire as "dills. ' 
The Romans supposed it made people indolent and 
torpid, therefore they named the plant from lenhis, slow. 

Allied to the Lentil as likewise a leguminous plant 
is the LUPINE, grown now only as an ornament 
to our flower beds, but formerly cultivated by the 
liomans as an article of food, and still capable of 
usefulness in this capacity for the invalid. Pliny said, 
"No kind of fodder is more wholesome and light of 
digestion than the white Lupine when eaten dry." 
If taken commonly at meals it will contribute a fresh 
colour and a cheerful countenance. When thus for- 
merly used neither trouble nor expense was needed 
in sowing the seed, since it had merely to be scat- 
tered over the ground without ploughing or digging. 
But Virgil designated it tristis Lvpinus, " the sad 
Lupine," probably because when the pulse of this plant 
was eaten without being first cooked in any way so as 
to modify its bitter taste, it had a tendency to contract 
the muscles of the face, and to give a sorrowful 
appearance to the countenance. It was said the Lupine 
was cursed by the Virgin Mary, because when she fled 
with the child Christ from the assassins of Herod, plants 
of this species by the noise they made attracted the 
attention of the soldiers. 

The Lupine was originally named from Inpus, a wolf, 
because of its voracious nature. The seeds were used 
as pieces of money by Roman actors in their plays and 
comedies, whence came the saying, " nummus lujnnus," 
" a spurious bit of money." 




Our garden Lettuce is a cultivated variety of the wild, 
or strong-scented Lettuce {Laduca virosa), which grows, 
with prickly leaves, on banks and waysides in chalky 
districts throughout England and Wales. It belongs to 
the Composite order of plants, and contains the medicinal 
properties of the plant more actively than does the 
Lettuce produced for the kitchen. An older form of 
the name is Lettonce, which is still retained in Scotland. 

Chemically the wild Lettuce contains lactucin, lactu- 
copricin, asparagin, mannite, albumen, gum, and resin, 
together with oxalic, malic, and citric acids ; thus 
possessing virtues for easing pain, and inducing sleep. 
The cultivated Lettuce Avhich comes to our tables retains 
these same properties, but in a very modified degree, 
since the formidable principles have become as com- 
pletely toned down and guileless in the garden product 
as were the child-like manners and the pensive smile of 
Bret Harte's Heathen Chinee. 

Each plant derives its name, laduca, from its milky 
juice ; in Latin ladis ; and in Greek, galaktos (taking the 
genitive case). This juice, when withdrawn from the 
cut or incised stalks and stems of the wild Lettuce, is 
milky at first, and afterwards becomes brown, like opium, 
being then known (when dried into a kind of gum) as 
ladacarium. From three to eight grains of this gum, 
if taken at bedtime, will allay the wakefulness which 
follows over-excitement of brain. A similar ladmarium, 
got from the dried milk of the cultivated garden Lettuce, 
is so mild a sedative as to be suitable for restless infants ; 
and two grains thereof may be safely given to a young 
child for soothing it to sleep. 

The wild Lettuce is rather laxative ; with which view 
a decoction of the leaves is sometimes taken as a drink 



to remedy constipation, and intestinal difficulties, as also 
to allay feverish pains. The plant was mentioned as 
acting thus in an epigram by Martial {Lihr. FL, Sq.). 

" Prima tibi clabitur ventro lactaca movendo 
Utilis, et poms fila resecta suis." 

Gerard said: "Being in some degree laxative and 
aperient, the cultivated Lettuce is very proper for hot 
bilious dispositions;" and Parkinson adds (1640): 
" Lettuce eaten raw or boyled, helpeth to loosen the 
belly, and the boyled more than the raw." It was 
known as the " Milk Plant " to Dioscorides and 
Theophrastus, and was much esteemed by the Eomans 
to be eaten after a debauch of wine, or as a sedative for 
inducing sleep. But a prejudice against it was 
entertained for a time as venerem emrvans, and therefore 
mortiLorum cibi, "food for the dead." 

Apuleius says, that when the eagle desires to fly to 
a great height, and to get a clear view of the extensive 
prospect below him, he first plucks a leaf of the wild 
Lettuce and touches his eyes with the juice thereof, by 
^vhich means he obtains the widest perspicuity of vision. 
" Dicunt aquilam quum in altum volare voluerit ut 
prospiciat rerum naturas lactucoe sylvaticoe folium 
evellere et succo ejus sibi oculos tangere, et maximam 
inde claritudinem accipere." 

After the death of Adonis, Venus is related to have 
thrown herself on a bed of lettuces to assuage her 
grief. " In lactuca occultatum a Venere Adonin 
— cecinit Callimachus — quod allegorice interpretatus 
Athenoeus illuc referendum putat quod in venerem 
hebetiores fiunt lactucas vescentes assidue." 

The Pythagoreans called this plant " the Eunuch " ; 
and there is a saying in Surrey, " O'er much Lettuce in 



the garden will stop a young wife's bearing." During the 
middle ages it Avas thought an evil spirit lurked among 
the Lettuces adverse to mothers, and causing grievous 
ills to new-born infants. 

The Romans, in the reign of Domitian, had the 
lettuce prepared with eggs, and served with the last 
course at their tables, so as to stimulate their appetites 
afresh. Martial wonders that it had since then become 
customary to take it rather at the beginning of the 
meal : — 

" Claudere quae csenas lactuca solebat avorum 
Die mihi cur nostras inchoat ilia dapes." 

Antoninus Musa cured Csesar Augustus of hj^po- 
chondriasis by means of this plant. 

The most common variety of the wild Lettuce, 
improved by frequent cultivation, is the Cabbage Lettuce, 
or Roman, " which is the best to boil, stew, or put into 
hodge-podge." Different sorts of the Cos Lettuce follow 
next onwards. Th.QLactuca sylvatica is.a variety of the wild 
Lettuce producing similar effects. From this a medicinal 
tincture (H.) is prepared, and an extract from the 
flowering herb is given in doses of from five to fifteen 
grains. No attempt was made to cultivate the Lettuce 
in this country until the fourth year of Elizabeth's 

AVhen bleached by gardeners the lettuce becomes 
tender, sweet, and succulent, being easily digested, even 
by dyspeptic persons, as to its crisp, leafy parts, but not 
its hard stalk. It now contains but little nutriment 
of any sort, but supplies some mineral salts, especially 
nitre. In the stem there still lingers a small quantity of 
the sleep-inducing principle, "lactucarin," particularly 
when the plant is flowering. G-alen, when sleepless from 



advanced age and infirmities, with hard study, took 
decoction of the Lettuce at night ; and Pope says, with 
reference to our garden sort : — 

"If you want rest, 
Lettuce, and cowslip wine : — 'probatum est.' " 

But if Lettuces are taken at supper with this view of 
promoting sleep, they should be had without any 
vinegar, which neutralises their soporific qualities. 
"Sleep," said Sir Thomas Brown, ''is so like death that 
I dare not trust it without my prayers." 

Some persons suppose that when artificially blanched 
the plant is less Avholesome than if left to grow naturally 
in the garden, especially if its ready digestibility by 
those of sensitive stomachs be correctly attributed to 
the slightly narcotic principle. It was taken uncooked 
by the Hebrews with the Paschal lamb. 

John Evelyn writes enthusiastically about it in his 
Book of Sallets : " So harmless is it that it may safely be 
eaten raw in fevers ; it allays heat, bridles choler, 
extinguishes thirst, excites appetite, kindly nourishes, 
and, above all, represses vapours, conciliates sleep, and 
mitigates pain, besides the eftect it has upon the morals 
— temperance and chastity." 

" Galen (whose beloved sallet it was) says it breeds 
the most laudable blood. No marvel, then, that Lettuces 
were by the ancients called saivr, by way of eminency, 
and were so highly valued by the great Augustus that, 
attributing to them his recovery from a dangerous 
sickness, it is reported he erected a statue and built an 
altar to this noble plant." Likewise, " Tacitus, spending 
almost nothing at his frugal table in other dainties, was 
yet so great a friend to the Lettuce that he used to 
say of his prodigality in its purchase, Swnmi se mercari 



illas sumitus effmioney Probably the Lettuce of Greece 
Avas more active than our indigenous, or cultivated plant. 

By way of admonition as to care in preparing the 
Lettuce for table, Dr. King Chambers has said {Diet m 
Health and Disease), " The consumption of Lettuce by 
the working man with his tea is an increasing habit 
worthy of all encouragement. But the said working 
man must be warned of the importance of washing the 
material of his meal. This hint is given in view of the 
frequent occurrence of the large round worm in the 
labouring population of some agricultural counties^ 
Oxfordshire for instance, where unwashed Lettuce is 
largely eaten." Young Lettuces may be raised in forty- 
eight hours by first steeping the seed in brandy and 
then sowing it in a hot-house. 

The seeds of the garden Lettuce are emollient, and 
when rubbed up with water make a pleasant emulsion, 
which contains nothing of the milky, laxative bitterness 
furnished by the leaves and stalk. This emulsion 
resem])les that of almonds, but is even more cooling, and 
therefore a better medicine in disorders arising from 
acrimon}^ and irritation. 

From the LacMca mrosa, or strong-scented wild 
Lettuce, a medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared, using the 
whole plant. On the principle of treating with this 
tincture, when diluted, such toxic effects as too large 
doses of the juice would bring about, a slow pulse, with 
a disposition lo stupoi', and sleepy weakness, are suc- 
cessfully met by its use. Also a medicinal extract 
is made by druggists from the wild Lettuce, and given 
in doses of from three to ten grains for the medicinal 
purposes which have been particularised, and to remove 
a dull, heavy headache. 

"The garden Lettuce is good," as Pliny said, "for 



burnings and scaldings if the leaves be laid thereon, with 
salt {si(^, before the blisters do appear." "By reason," 
concludes Evelyn, "too, of its soporiferous quality, the 
Lettuce ever was, and still continues, the principal 
foundation of the universal tribe of sallets, which cools 
and refreshes, besides its other properties, and therefore 
was held in such high esteem by the ancients, that divers 
of the Valerian family dignified and ennobled their 
name Avilh that of Laducinii.^^ It is botanically distin- 
guished as the Laduca sativa, "from the plenty of milk," 
says "Adam in Eden " (W. Coles), "that it hath, and 

Lambs' Lettuce, or Corn Salad, is a distinct plant, one 
of the Valerian tribe, which was formerly classed as a 
Lettuce, by name, Laduca agnina, either because it 
appears about the time when lambs (af/ni) are dropped, 
or because it is a favourite food of lambs." 

The French call this saJade de Frefre, "monks' salad, ' 
and in reference thereto an old writer has said : " It 
certainly deserves a place among the p/'iiitential herbs, 
for the stomach that admits it is apt to cry peccavi. 

The same plant is also known by the title of the White 
Pot Herb, in contrast to the Olus airum, or Black Pot 
Herb. It grows wild in the banks of hedges and waste 
cornfields, and is cultivated in our kitchen gardens as a 
salad herb, the Milk Grass, being called botanically the 
Valerianella olitoria, and having been in request as a 
spring medicine among country folk in former days. 
By genus it is a Fedia, and bears diminutive white 
flowers resembling glass. Gerard says : " We know 
the Lambs' Lettuce as LobloUie ; and it serves in winter 
as a salad herb, among others none of the worst." In 
France it goes by the names inandw and hroussette. A 
medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root. 



The black pot-herb — so called from the dark colour 
of its fruit — is au umbelliferous plant, Smyrnium olus- 
atrum, or Alexanders, often found in the vicinity of 
abbeys, and probably therefore held in former repute 
by the Monks. Its names are derived from Smyrna, 
myrrh, in allusion to the odour of the plant ; and from 
Macedoiiicuin, or the parsley of Macedon, Alexander's 
country. The herb was also known as Stanmarch. 
It grows on waste places by rivers near the sea, 
having been formerly cultivated like celery, which has 
now supplanted it. When boiled it is eaten with 
avidity by sailors returning from long voyages, who 
happen to land at the South Western corner of 


The Lily of the Valley grows ^vi\d m many of our 
English woods, and possesses special curative virtues, 
which give it, according to modern knowledge, a just 
place among Herbal Simples of repute. This is the 
parent flower of our graceful, sweet-scented scape of 
pendent, milk-white little floral bells, enshrined within 
two bro:id leafy blades of dark green, and finding 
general favour for the jardiniere, or the button-hole. 

Its name Coiimllaria majalis is derived from convallis, 
"a valley," and rmjalis, "belonging to the month of 
May," when this Lily comes into flower. 

Rustics corrupt the double title to " Liry Confancy," 
and provincially the plant is known as " Wood Lily," 
" May Lily," and " May Blossom." Also it bears the 
name of Mugget, and is said to have growm up after 
the bloody combat of St. Leonard wuth the Dragon. 
The French call it Muguet, or " little musk." The taste 
of the flowers is acrid and bitter ; they have been em- 


ployed with benefit, when dried and powdered, as snuff, 
for headache, and giddiness arising from weakness. 
A tincture of the plant is made, and can be procured 
from any leading druggist. The active medicinal 
principle is " convallarin," which slows the disturbed 
action of a weak, irritable heart, whilst at the same 
time increasing its power. Happily the remedy is a 
perfectly safe one, and no harm has been known to 
occur from taking it experimentally in full and frequent 
doses ; so that, in this respect, it is far preferable to 
the Fox Glove, which is apt to accumulate in the blood 
with poisonous results. To make the tincture of 
Convallaria, one part of the flowers is treated with eight 
parts of spirit of wine (proof) ; and the dose is from 
five to fifteen drops, with a tablespoonful of water, 
three times in the twenty-four hours. 

Also an infusion may be made with boiling water 
poured over the whole plant — root, stems, and flowers ; 
and this infusion may be given continuously for from 
five to ten days ; but it should be left off for a time as 
soon as the irritability of the heart is subdued, and the 
pulse steady and stronger. If taken during an attack 
of palpitation and laboured breathing from a weak 
heart, the benefit of the infusion in tablespoonful doses 
is felt at once. 

Ten grains of the dried flowers may be infused in six 
ounces of boiling water, and a tablespoonful of this be 
given three times a day with perfect safety, and with a 
most soothing efifect for a weak, sensitive, palpitating 
heart ; but it does not suit a fatty heart equally well. 
Nevertheless, even for insufficiency of the valves, when 
dangerous, or distressing symptoms of heart disease 
have set in, an infusion of the flowers has proved very 
helpful. The rhizome, root, exhales a pleasant odour, 



different from that of the flowers; it tastes sweet at first 
but afterwards bitter. 

A fluid extract is further prepared, and may be 
mixed in doses of from five to twenty drops with water. 
The Russian peasants have long employed the Lily of 
the Valley for certain forms of dropsy, when proceeding 
from a faulty heart. 

In the summer, when the flowers are in bloom, two 
drachms, by weight, of the leaves should be steeped 
in a pint of water, either cold or boiling ; and the 
whole of this may be taken, if needed, during the 
twenty-four hours. It will promote a free flow of urine. 
Culpeper commended the Lily of the Valley for weak 
memory, loss of speech, and apoplexy; whilst Gerard 
advised it for gout. In Devonshire it is thought 
unlucky to plant a bed of these Lilies, as the person who 
does so will probably die within the next twelve months. 

In the Apocrypha, Canticles ii, 1, "I am the Lily of 
the Valley,'"' this flower is apparently brought under 
notice, but some other plant must be intended here, 
because the Lily Convally does not grow in Palestine. 
The word Lily is u.sed in Oriental languages for a flower 
in general. 

Distilled water from the flowers was formerly in 
great repute against nervous affections, and for many 
troubles of the head, insomuch that it was treasured in 
vessels of gold and silver. Matthiolus named it Aqua 
aarea, " golden water " ; and Etmuller said of the 
virtues of the plant, Quod specifice armabit imp)otenies 
maritos ad helium veneris. 

A spirit made from the petals is excellent as an out- 
ward embrocation for rheumatism and sprains ; and in 
some parts of Germany, a wine is prei)ared from the 
flowers mixed with raisins. Old Gerard adopted an 


unaccountable method for extracting these virtues of 
the Lilies. He ordered that. " The flowers being close 
stopped up in a glass vessel, should be put into an ant 
hill, and taken away again a month after, when ye 
shall find a liquor in the glass which, being outwardly 
applied, Avill help the cure of the gout." 

After the blossom has fallen off a berry is formed, 
which assumes in the autumn a bright scarlet colour, 
and proves attractive to birds. 

LIME TREE, Flowers of (Tiliacere). 
Though not a native of Great Britain, yet, because of 
its common growth in our roadways and along the 
front of terraced houses, and in suburban avenues, the 
I^ime Tree has become almost indigenous. 

In the old Herhals it is called Lyne or Line, 
Tillet, Till tree, and Tilia, each of these names bearing- 
reference to the bast or inner bark of the tree, which is 
used in the North for cordage. Others say the name 
is an alteration of Telia, from teluw, a dart, alluding 
to the use of the wood. Tilia is more probably derived 
from ptilon, a feather, because of the feathery appear- 
ance of the floral leaves. 

Shakespeare says : — 

" Now, tell me thy name, good fellow," said he, 
" Under the leaves of lyne." 

The "n" in later writers has been changed into "m." 

Its sweet-smelling and highly fragrant flowers 
blossom in May, and are much sought after by bees, 
because abounding with honied nectar. A medicinal 
tincture (H.) is made from them with spirit of wine : 
and when given in doses of from five to ten drops with 
water, three times in the day, it serves to relieve sick 



bilious giddiness, with depression of spirits, and a 
tendency to loose bowels, with nervous headache. 
The sap of the Lime Tree (Tilia Europcea) abounds in 
mucilage, from which sugar can be elaborated. A tea 
made from the blossoms and leaves with boiling 
water, is admirable for promoting perspiration. It is 
because of a long established reputation for giving 
relief in chronic epilepsy or the falling sickness, and of 
curing epileptiform headaches, whilst proving of indis- 
putable usefulness in allied nervous disorders, that the 
flowers and leaves of the Lime or Linden Tree occupy a 
true place among modern medicinal Simples. Gilbert 
White made some Lime-blossom tea, and pronounced it 
a very soft, well-fiavoured, pleasant saccharine julep, 
much resembling the juice of liquorice. This tea has 
been found efficacious for quieting hard coughs and for 
relieving hoarseness. 

The flowers easily ferment, and being so fragrant 
may be used for making wine : likewise a fine flavoured 
brandy has been distilled from them. The fruit contains 
an oily substance, and has been proposed, when roasted, 
as a domestic substitute for chocolate. The sap may 
be procured by making incisions in the trunk, and 
branches. The flowers are sedative, and anti-spasmodic. 
Fenelon decorates his enchanted Isle of Calypso with 
flowering Lime trees. Hofl'man says Tilioi^ ad mille usus 

The inner bark furnishes a soft mucilage, which may 
be applied externally with healing effect to burns, 
scalds, and inflammatory swellings. Gerard taught, 
"that the flowers are commended by divers persons 
against pain of the head proceeding from a cold cause ; 
against dizziness, apoplexy, and the falling sickness ; 
and not only the flowers, but the distilled water thereof." 



Hoffman knew a case of chronic epilepsy recovered by a 
use of the flowers in infusion drunk as tea. Such, indeed, 
was the former exalted anti-epileptic reputation of the 
Lime Tree, that epileptic persons sitting under its 
shade were reported to be cured. 

A famous " Lind " or Lime Tree, which grew in his 
ancestral place, gave to the celebrated Linnaeus his 
significant name. The well-known street, unter den 
Linden in Berlin, is a favourite resort, because of its 
pleasant, balmy shade ; and Avhen Heine lay beneath the 
Lindens, he "thought his own sweet nothing-at-all 
thoughts." The wood of the Lime Tree is preferred 
before every other wood for masterly carving. Grinling 
Gibbons executed his best and most noted Avork in this 
material ; and the finely-cut details still remain sharp, 
delicate, and beautiful. 

Chemically, the Linden flowers contain a particular 
light, fragrant, volatile oil, which is soluble in alcohol. 
They are used in warm baths with much success to 
allay nervous irritability ; or a strong infusion of them 
is administered by enema for the same purpose. 

LIQUORICE, English {Leguminous). 
The common Liquorice plant, a native of the warmer 
European countries, was first cultivated in Britain about 
L562, in Turner's time. It has been chiefly grown at 
Pontefract (Pomfret) in Yorkshire, Worksop in Notting- 
hamshire, and Godalming in Surrey ; whilst at the 
present time it is produced abundantly at Mitcham, 
near London, and the roots are dug up after a three 
years' growth, to be supplied to the shops. The use of 
the Liquorice plant was first learnt by the Hellenes 
from the Scythians ; and the root was named adijpson, 
being thought from the time of Theophrastus to power- 



fully extinguish thirst. But Dr. Cullen says his 
experience has not confirmed this as a true effect of 
chewing the root. When lightly boiled in a little water 
it yields all its sweetness, together with some mucilage. 

A favourite pastime of school boys at the beginning 
of the present century, was to carry in the pocket a 
small phial of water containing bits of this " Spanish 
juice," and to shake it continually so as to make a 
solution, valued the more the darker and thicker it 

The juice is commonly employed as a pectoral in 
coughs or hoarseness, when thickened to the consistence 
of a lozenge, or to that of a solid mass, which hardens in 
the form of a stick. It is also added to nauseous medi- 
cines, for masking their taste. Towards obtaining this 
juice the underground stem or root of the plant is the 
part employed. 

The search of Diogenes for an honest man was scarce- 
ly more difficult than would be that of an average 
person for genuine Liquorice ; since the juice is adul- 
terated to any extent, and there is no definite standard 
of purity for this article so commonly used. Potato 
starch, miller's sweepings mixed with sugar, and any 
kind of rubbish are added to it. 

In China, the roots of Glycyrrhiza echinata and Glycyrr- 
hiza glabra, are used in a variety of medicinal prepar- 
ations as possessing tonic, alterative, and expectorant 
properties, and as a mild aperient. Thereto are 
attributed rejuvenating and highly nutritive qualities. 
English Licjuorice root occurs in pieces three or four 
inches long, and about as thick as a finger. 

The extract of Liquorice must be prepared from the 
dried root, else it cannot be strained bright, and would 
be liable to fermentation. Chemically, the root con- 



tains a special kind of sugar, glycyrrhizine, a demulcent 
starch, asparagin, phosphate and malate of lime and 
magnesia, a resinous oil, albumen, and woody fibre. 
Old Fuller says concerning Nottingham, "This county 
affordeth the first and best Liquorice in England : great 
is the use thereof in physick. A stick of the same is 
commonly the spoon prescribed to patients to use in 
any Loaches. If (as the men of Gi^neas were forced to eat 
their own trenchers), these chance to eat their spoons, 
their danger is none at all." The Loach, or Lingence, 
from eJdeigma, a substance licked-up, has become our 
modern lozenge. Extract of Liquorice is largely im- 
ported as " Spanish " or "Italian" juice, the Solazzi juice 
being most esteemed^ which comes in cylindrical or 
flattened rolls, enveloped in bay leaves ; but the pipe 
Liquorice of the sweetstuff shops is adulterated. Ponte- 
fract lozenges are made of refined Liquorice, and are 
justly popuhir. The sugar of Liquorice niay be safely 
taken by diabetic patients. 

Ofiicinally, the root and stolons (underground stems) 
of the Glycyrrhiza glahra (smooth) are variously 
employed ; for making an extract, for mixing with 
linseed in a tea, for combination with powdered senna, 
sugar, and fennel, to form a favourite mi]d laxative 
medicine, known as " Compound Liquorice Powder," 
and for other uses. The solid juice is put into porter 
and stout, because giving sweetness, thickness, and 
blackness to those beverages, without making them 
fermentative ; but Liquorice, like gum, supplies scant 
aliment to the body. Black Liquorice is employed 
in the manufacture of tobacco, for smoking and 

The Rest Harrow ( Ononis arvensis ), a troublesome 
weed, very common in our ploughed fields, has a root 



which affords a sweet viscid juice, and hence it is popu- 
larly known as "Wild Liquorice." 

This is a leguminous plant, called also " Ground 
Furze," which is a favourite food of the donkey, and 
therefore gets its botanical title from the Greek word 
onos, an ass. Its long and thickly matted roots will 
arrest the progress of the harrow, or plough. Medicin- 
ally, the plant has been given with success to subdue 
delirium. It is obnoxious to snakes, and they will not 
come near it. 

Other appellations of the herb are Cammock, Stink- 
ing Tommy, Arrete hceuf, Bemora aratri, Resta bovis, and 
Land Whin (which from the Latin guindolum, signifies 
a kind of cherry). The plant was formerly much 
extolled for obviating stone in the bladder. It is seen 
to be covered with spines ; and a tradition exists that it 
was the Rest harrow which furnished the crown of 
thorns plaited by the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion 
of our Savioiu-. This plant has been long used as a 
culinary vegetable, its young shoots being boiled, or 
taken in salad, or pickled. 

The French know it as Biigrane, beloved by goats, 
and the chief delight of donkeys, who rejoice to roll 
themselves amid its prickles. Simon Pauli ne connait 
■pas de meilleur remede contre le calcul des reins, et de la vessie. 
" Anjourdhni V arrete hceuf est a pen pres abandonnS.'' 
" Oil y reviendraf' The plant contains "ononin," a chem- 
ical glucoside, which is demulcent to the urinary 

Its botanical name of Glycijrrhvxt comes from the 
Greek words, gluJais, " sweet," and riva, " a root." 
English Liquorice root, when dried, is commercially 
used in two forms, the peeled and the unpeeled. By 
far and away the best lozenges are those of our boy- 




hood, still attributed to one " Smith," in the Borough 
of London. 


All the Mallows [Malvacece) to the number of a thousand, 
agree in containing mucilage freely, and in possessing 
no unwholesome properties. 

Their family name " Mallow " is derived from the 
Greek malasseiii, " to soften," as alluding to the demul- 
cent qualities of these mucilaginous plants. The Com- 
mon Mallow is a well-known roadside plant, with large 
downy leaves, and streaked trumpet-shaped purple 
flowers, which later on furnish round button-like seeds, 
known to the rustics as " pickcheeses " in Norfolk and 
elsewhere, whilst beloved by schoolboys, because of 
their nutty flavour, and called by them " Bread and 

Clare tells playfully of the fairies, borre by mice at 
a gallop : — 

" In chariots lolling at their ease, 
Made of whate'er their fancies please, 
With wheels at hand of Mallow seeds, 
Which childish sport had strung as beads." 

And recalls the time when he sat as a boy : — 

" Picking from Mallows, sport to please, 
The crumpled seed we called a cheese." 

Both this plant and its twin sister, the Marsh Mallow 
(Althma hibiscus, from aWio, to cure), possess medicinal 
virtues, which entitle them to take rank as curative 
Herbal Simples. The Sussex peasant knows the Com- 
mon Mallow as "Mailer," so that "aller and mailer" 
means with him Alehoof (Ground Ivy) and Mallow. 
Pliny said : " Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the 



Mallows shall that day be free from all diseases that 
may come to him." 

This plant is often named " Round Dock," and was 
formerly called "Hock Herb": our Hollyhock being of 
the Mallow tribe, and first brought to us from China. 
Pythagoras held Malvce folium sandissimum ; and we 
read of Epimenides in Flato, " at his Mallows and 
Asphodels." The Romans esteemed the plant in deliciis 
among their dainties, and placed it of old as the first 
dish at their tables. The laxative properties of the 
Mallow, both as regards its emollient leaves, and its 
radix althece efficacior, were told of by Cicero and 

The Marsh Mallow grows wild abundantly in many 
parts of England, especially in marshes near the sea 
coast. It gets its generic name altluea, from the Greek 
althos, "a remedj^," because exercising so many curative 
virtues. Its old appellations were Vismalva, Bismalva, 
Malvaviscus, being twice as medicinally efficacious as 
the ordinary Mallow (Sylvestris). 

Virgil in one of his eclogues teaches how to coax 
goats with the Marsh Mallow : — 

" Hsedommque gregem viridi compellere hibisco." 

The root is sweet and very mucilaginous when 
chewed, containing more than half its weight of 
saccharine viscous mucilage. It is, therefore, emollient, 
demulcent, pain-soothing, and lubricating ; serving to 
subdue heat and irritation, whilst, if applied externally, 
diminishing the painful soreness of inflamed parts. It is, 
for these reasons, much employed in domestic poultices, 
and in decoction as a medicine for pulmonary catarrhs, 
hoarseness, and irritative diarrhoea or dysentery. Also 
the decoction acts well as a bland soothing collyrium for 



bathing inflamed eyes. Gerard says : " The leaves be 
with good effect mixed with fomentations and poultices 
against pains of the sides, of the stone, and of the 
bladder ; also in a bath they serve to take away any 
manner of pain." 

The mucilaginous matter with which the Marsh 
Mallow abounds is the medicinal part of the plant ; 
the roots of the Common Mallow being useless to yield 
it for such purposes, whilst those of the Marsh Mallow 
are of singular efficacy. A decoction of Marsh Mallow 
is made by adding live pints of water to a quarter- 
of-a-pound of the dried root, then boiling down to 
three pints, and straining through calico. Also Marsh 
MalloAV ointment is a popular remedy, especially for 
mollifying heat, and hence it was thought invaluable 
by those who had to undergo the ordeal of holding red 
hot iron in their hands, to rapidly test their moral 
integrity. The sap of the Marsh Mallow was combined 
together with seeds of Fleabane, and the white of an 
hen's egg, to make a paste which was so adhesive that 
the hands when coated with it were safe from harm 
through holding for a few moments the glowing iron. 

French druggists prepare a famous medicinal sweet- 
meat, known as Pate de girnauce from the root of 
the Marsh Mallow. In Palestine, the plant is employed 
by the poor to eke out their food ; thus we read in 
the book of Job (chap. xxx. ver. 4), "Who cut up 
Mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their 

In France, the young tops and tender leaves of the 
Marsh Mallow are added to spring salads, as stimulat- 
ing the kidneys healthily, for which purpose is 
likewise prepared a syrup of Marsh Mallows (Syrupus 
AUhcens) from the roots with cold water, to which the 



sugar is afterwards added. The leaves, flowers, and 
roots, are employed for making ptisans. In Devon- 
shire, this plant is termed by the farmers, " Meshmel- 
lish," also " Drunkards," because growing close by the 
water; and in the West of England, "Bulls-eyes"; 
whilst being known in Somerset as " Bull Flowers " 
(pool flowers). The root of the Marsh Mallow contains 
starch, mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar, asparagin, phosphate 
of lime, glutinous matter and cellulose. An infusion 
made with cold water takes up the mucilage, sugar, 
and asparagin, then the hot water dissolves the starch. 

The flowers were used formerly on May-day by 
country people for strewing before their doors, and 
weaving into garlands. 

The Geranium is said to have been originally a 
Mallow. Mahomet having washed his shirt while on a 
journey, hung it on a Mallow to dry, and the plant 
became therefore promoted to be a Geranium. 

Most probably, the modern French Fate de gimauve 
contains actually nothing of the plant or its constituents ; 
but the root is given in France to infants, on which 
they may try their teeth during dentition, much as 
Orris root is used elsewhere. 

The laxative quality of the common Mallow was 
mentioned by Martial : — 

" Exoneraturas ventrem mihi villica malvas 
Attulit, et vauias quas liabct hortus opes." 

The Musk Mallow (Malm iiioschata) is another 
common variety of this plant, which emits from its 
leaves a faint musky odour, especially in warm weather, 
or when they are drawn lightly through the hand. Its 
virtues are similar in kind, but less powerful in degree, 
to those of the Marsh Mallow. 




In the Grete Herhall this plant was called Mary Gowles. 
Three varieties of the Marigold exercise medicinal 
virtues which constitute them Herbal Simples of a 
useful nature — the Corn Marigold {Chryscmithemum 
segetum), found in our cornfields ; the cultivated garden 
Marigold {Calendula officinalis) ; and the Marsh Mari- 
gold (Caltha paliistris), growing in moist grass lands, 
and popularly known as " Mareblobs." 

The Corn Marigold, a Composite flower, called also 
Bigold, and the Yellow Oxeye, grows freely, though 
locally, in English cornfields, its brilliant yellow flowers 
contrasting handsomely with adjacent Scarlet-hued 
Poppies and Bluebottles {Cenlaitrea cyanus). It is also 
named Buddie or Boodle, from buidel, a purse, because 
it bears goals or goldins, representing gold coins, in the 
foim of the flat, round, brightly yellow blossoms, which 
were formerly known, too, as Ruddes (red flowers). 
The botanical title of the species, Chrysanthemum 
segetum., signifies "golden flower." 

Hill named this Marigold, " the husbandman's dyall." 
In common with the larger Oxeye Daisy (ChrysantJiemum 
leucanfhemum) it has proved of late very successful 
in checking the night sweats of pulmonary consump- 
tion. A tincture and an infusion of the herb have 
been made ; from five to ten drops of the former being 
given for a dose, and from two to three tablespoonfuls 
of the latter. 

The gard n Marigold, often called African Marigold, 
came originally from Southern France, and has been 
cultivated in England since 1570. It is a Composite 
plant, and bears the name Calendida from the Latin 
calendce, the first days of each month, because it flowers 
all the year round. Whittier styles it " the grateful and 



obsequious Marigold." The leaves are somewhat thick 
and sapid ; when chewed, they communicate straightway 
a viscid sweetness, which is followed by a sharp, penetrat- 
ing taste, very persistent in the mouth, and not of the 
warm, aromatic kind, but of an acrid, saline nature. 
This Marigold has always been grown, chiefly for its 
flowers, which were esteemed of old as a cordial to 
cheer the spirits, and when dried were put into broths 
as a condiment. Charles Lamb (Elia) says, in his 
Essay on Christ's Hospital : "In lieu of our half-pickled 
Sundays, or quite fresh boiled beef on Tuesdays (strong 
as caro equina), with detestable Marigolds floating in the 
pail to poison the broth." The strap-like florets of the 
rays are the parts of the flowers used for such a pur- 
pose. They should be gathered on a fine day when the 
blossoms are fully expanded, which having been divested 
of their outer green leaves, should be next spread on a 
cloth in an airy room to become dry. After having 
been turned frequently for a few days, they may be put 
by in paper bags or in drawers. 

Gerard says : "The yellow leaves of the flowers are 
dried and kept throughout Dutch-land against winter, 
to put into broths and physical potions, and for divers 
other purposes, in such quantity that the stores of some 
grocers or spice-sellers contain barrels filled with them, 
and to be retailed by the penny, more or less ; insomuch, 
that no broths are well made without dried Marigolds " ; 
and, " The herb drank after the coming forth from the 
bath of them that hath the yellow jaundice doth in short 
time make them well coloured." (This is probably 
conjectured on the doctrine of signatures.) 

A decoction of the flowers is employed by country 
people as a posset drink in measles and small-pox ; and 
the expressed fresh juice proves a useful remedy against 


costiveness, as well as for jaundice and suppression of 
the monthly flow — from one to two tablespoonfuls being- 
taken as a dose. 

The plant has been considered also of service for 
scrofulous children, when given to them as a salad. 
One of the flowers if rubbed on any part recently stung 
by a bee or wasp, will quickly relieve it. 

Buttercups and Marigolds, when growing close to 
each other, are called in Devonshire, " publicans and 
sinners." The active, bitter principle of the Marigold 
is " calendulin," which is yellow and tasteless, whilst 
s\vellin<]^ in water into a transparent jelly. Druggists 
now make a medicinal tincture (H.) of the common 
Marigold, using four ounces of the dried florets to a pint 
of proof spirit, the dose being from half a teaspoon ful 
to two teaspoonfuls in water, twice or three times in the 
day. It is advised as a sudorific stimulant in low fevers, 
and to relieve spasms. Also, the Marigold has been 
employed both as a medicine and externally in treating 
cancer, being thought to " dispose cancerous sores to 
heal." A saturated tincture of the flowers when mixed 
with water, promotes the cure of contusions, wounds, 
and simple sores or ulcers ; also the extract will allay 
chronic vomiting, if given in doses of two grains, several 
times a day. One drop of the tincture with two grains 
of powdered borax when sprayed into the ear, is very 
useful if a discharge has become established therefrom. 

The plant, especially its flowers, was used on a large 
scale by the American surgeons, to treat wounds and 
injuries sustained during the last civil Avar ; and 
obtained their warmest commendation. It quite pre- 
vented all exhausting suppurative discharges and 
drainings. Sucnis Ca'eiidake (the fresh juice) is the best 
foi-m — say American surgeons — in which the Calendula 



is obtainable for ready practice. Just sufficient alcohol 
should be added to the juice as will prevent fermentation. 
For these purposes as a vulnerary, the Calendula owes 
its introduction and first use altogether to homoeopathic 
methods, as signally valuable for healing wounds, ulcers, 
burns, and other breaches of the skin surface. Dr. 
Hughes (Brighton) says : " The Marigold is a precious 
vulnerary. You will find it invaluable in surgical 

On exposure to the sun the yellow colour of the 
garden Marigold becomes bleached. Some writers spell 
the name " Marygold," as if it, and its synonyms bore 
reference to the Virgin Mary ; but this is a mistake, 
though there is a fancied resemblance of the disc's florets 
to rays of glory. It comes into blossom about March 
25th (the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary). 

" What flower is this which bears the Virgin's name, 
And ricliest metal joined with the same ? " 

In the chancel of Burynarbon Church, Devonshire, 
is an epitaph containing a quaint allusion to this old 
idea respecting the Marigold : — " To the pretious 
memory of Mary, ye dear, and only daughter of George 
Westwood. January 31st, 1648." 

" This Mary Gold, lo ! here doth show 
Mari's worth gold lies here below ; 
The Marigold in sunshine spread, 

When cloudie closed doth bow the head." 

Margaret of Orleans had for her device a Marigold 
turning towards the sun, with the motto, '^je ne veiu: 
suivre que lui seulf 

Dairy women used to churn the petals of the Marigold 
with their cream for giving to their butter a yellow colour. 

The Marsh Marigold (Caltha poetarum) or the Marsh 



Horsegowl of old writers, grows commonly in our wet 
meadows, and resembles a gigantic buttercup, being of 
the same order of plants (Banunculaceoe). The term, 
Marsh Marigold, is a pleonasm for Marigold, which 
means of itself the Marsh Gowl or Marsh Golden Flower, 
being an abbreviation of the old Saxon mear-gealla. So 
that the term " Marsh " has become prefixed unneces- 
sarily. Presently, the name " Marigold," " Marsh Gowl," 
was passed on to the Calendula of the corn fields of 
Southern Europe, and to the garden Marigold. Further- 
more, the botanical title, Caltha, of the Mare Blob, is 
got from calalhus, a small round basket of twigs or 
osiers made two thousand years and more ago, which 
the concave golden bowl of the Marsh Marigold was 
thought to resemble. Persephone was collecting wild 
fiowers in a Calathus when carried otF by the admiring 
Pluto. The earliest use of the floral name Caltha occurs 
in Virgil's second Pastoral, " Mollia hiteola inigit vaccinia 
CciUIkV The title Mare Blob comes from the Anglo- 
Saxon, " mere " (a marsh), and " bleb " or " blob " 
(a bladder). These flowers were the flaveritia lumina 
Calthce of Columella, described by Shakespeare in the 
Winter's Tale. They are also known as " Bublicans," 
" Meadowbrights," "Crazies," "Christ's Eyes," "Bull's 
Eyes," "May Blobs," "Drunkards," "Water Caltrops," 
and wild "Batchelor's Buttons." A tincture is made 
(H.) from the whole plant when in flower, and may be 
given with success for that form of bloodlessness with 
great impairment of the whole health, known as per- 
nicious anaemia. In toxic quantities the marsh Marigold 
has produced in its provers, a pallid, yellow, swollen 
state of the face, constant headache and giddiness, a 
thickly-coated tongue, diarrhoea, a small rapid pulse 
sometimes intermittent, heaviness of the limbs, and an 



unhealthy, eruptive state of the skin ; so that the 
tincture of the plant in small, well-diluted doses will 
sloAvly overcome this totality of symptoms, and serve to 
establish a sound state of restored health. Five drops 
of the tincture diluted to the third strength should be 
given three times a day with water. Dr. Withering 
tells that on a large quantity of the flowers being put in 
the bed-room of a girl subject to fits, the attacks ceased ; 
and an infusion of the flowers has been since given with 
success for similar fits. 

The Marsh Marigold has been called Verrucaria, because 
efficacious in curing warts ; also Solsequia, or Solsequium ; 
and S'ponsa Solis, since the flower opens at the rising, 
and shuts at the setting of the sun. 


The common Marjoram (Origanum) grows frequently as 
a wild labiate plant on dry, bushy places, especially in 
chalky districts throughout Britain, the whole herb 
being fragrantly aromatic, and bearing flowers of a deep 
red colour. When cultivated in our kitchen gardens it 
becomes a favourite pot herb, as " Sweet Marjoram," 
with thin compact spikes, and more elliptical leaves than 
the wild Marjoram. Its generic title, Origanum, means 
in Greek, the joy of the mountains (oros-ganos) on which 
it grows. 

This plant and the Pennyroyal are often called 
" Organ." Its dried leaves are put as a pleasant condi- 
ment into soups and stuffings, being also sometimes 
substituted for tea. Together with the flowering tops 
they contain an essential volatile fragrant oil, which is 
carminative, warming, and tonic. An infusion made 
from the fresh plant will excellently relieve nervous 
headaches by virtue of the camphoraceous principle 



contained in the oil ; and externally the herb may be 
applied with benefit in bags as a hot fomentation to 
painful swellings and rheumatism, as likewise for colic. 

Organy," says Gerard, " is very good against the 
wambling of the stomacke, and stayeth the desire to 
vomit, especially at sea. It may be used to good 
purpose for such as cannot brooke their meate." 

The sweet Marjoram has also been successfully 
employed externally for healing scirrhous tumours of 
the breast. Murray says : " Tumores mammarum 
dolentes scirrhosos herba recens, viridis, per tempus 
applicata feliciter dissipavit." The essential oil, when 
long kept, assumes a solid form, and was at one time 
much esteemed for being rubbed into stiff joints. The 
Greeks and Romans crowned young couples with 
Marjoram, which is in some countries the symbol of 
honour. Probably the name was originally, " Majoram," 
in Latin, Majomna. Our forefathers scoured their 
furniture with its odorous juice. In the Merru Wives of 
Windsor, Act v, Scene 5, we read : — 

" The several chairs of order look you scour 
With juice of balm, and every precious tiovver.*' 

MERCURY- DOG'S ( Euphorhiacea^ ) . 
The Merciiiiallis perennis (Dog's Mercury) grows com- 
monly in our hedges and ditches, occurring in large 
patches, with egg-shaped pointed leaves, square stems, 
and light green flowers, developed in spikes. The old 
herbalists called it Smerewort, and gave it for agues, as 
well as to cure melancholy humours. It has been eaten 
in mistake for Good King Henry, which is sometimes 
called Mercury Goosefoot ; but it is decidedly poisonous, 
even when cooked. Some persons style it " Kentish 



The name Dog's Mercury or Dog's Cole was given 
either because of its supposed worthlessness, or to 
distinguish it from the Mercury Goosefoot aforesaid. 
A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the whole plant 
freshly collected when in flower and fruit, with spirit of 
wine ; and the dose of this in a diluted form is from 
five to ten drops, of the third decimal strength, two or 
three times a day, with a spoonful of water. The con- 
dition which indicates its medicinal use, is that of a 
severe catarrh, with chilliness, a heavy head, sneezing, 
a dry mouth, and general aching, lassitude, with stupor, 
and heat of face. Its chemical constituents have not 
been ascertained. In the Isle of Skye it is used for 
causing salivation as a vegetable mercury ; and j^er 
contra for curing a sore mouth. 

Such virtues as the herb possesses were thought to 
have been taught by the god Mercury. The Greeks 
called it Mercury's Grass {Ermou poa). When boiled 
and eaten with fried bacon in error for the English 
spinach. Good King Henry, it has produced sickness, 
drowsiness, and convulsive twitchings. The root affords 
both a blue and a crimson colour for dyeing. 


(Pennyroyal, Peppermint, and Spearmint). 

Several kinds of the Mints have been used medicinally 
from the earliest times, such as Balm, Basil, Ground 
Ivy, Horehound, Marjoram, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, 
Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Spearmint, and Thyme, some 
being esteemed rather as pot herbs, than as exercising 
positive medicinal eff'ects. The most useful as Herbal 
Simples which have yet to be considered are Pennyroyal, 
Peppermint, and Spearmint. The Cat Mint {Nepeta 
cataria) and Horse Mint are of minor importance. 



All the Mints are severally provided with leaves of a 
familiar fragrant character, it having been observed 
that this aromatic vegetation is a feature of deserts, and 
of other hot, dry places, all over the world. Tyndall 
showed the power exercised by a spray of perfume 
when diffused through a room to cool it, or in other 
words to exclude the passage of the heat rays ; and it 
has been suggested that the presence of essential oils 
in the leaves of these plants serves to protect them 
against the intense dry heat of a desert sun as effectively 
as if they were partly under shelter. Nevertheless 
Mints, with the exception of " Arvensis," are the 
inhabitants of wet and marshy wastes. 

They have acquired their common name Mentha from 
Minthes (according to Ovid) who was changed into a 
plant of this sort by Proserpina, the wife of Pluto, in a 
fit of jealousy. Their flowering tops are all found to 
contain a certain portion of camphor. Plin} said : " As 
for the garden Mint, the very smell of it alone recovers 
and refreshes the spirits, as the taste stirs up the 
appetite for meat, which is the reason that it is so 
general in our acid sauces, wherein we are accustomed to 
dip our meat." The Mints for paying tithes, with 
respect to which the Pharisees were condemned for their 
extravagance by our Saviour, included the Horse Mint 
(Si/lvestris), the round-leaved Mint, the hairy Mint 
(Aquatica), the Corn Mint {Arvensis), the Bergamot 
Mint, and some others, besides the "Mint, Rue, and 
Anise," specially mentioned. "Woe unto you Pharisees ; 
for ye tithe Mint and Rue, and all manner of herbs. 
Ye pay tithe of Mint, and Anise, and Cummin." 

The Mint Pennyroyal {Mentha Pidegiam) gets its name 
from the Latin puleium regium, because of its royal 
efficacy in destroying fleas (indices). The French call 



this similarly, Pouliot. It grows on moist heaths and 
pastures, and by the margins of brooks, being culti- 
vated further in our herb gardens, for kitchen and 
market uses. Also, it is produced largely about Mitcham, 
and is mostly sold in a dry state. The herb was 
formerly named Pudding Grass, from its being used to 
make the stuffing for meat, in days when this was 
termed a pudding. Thus we read in an old play, The 
Ordinary : — 

"Let the corporal 

" Come sweating under a breast of mutton stuffed with 


The Pennyroyal was named by the Greeks Bleekon 
and GleeJwn, being often used by them as a condiment for 
seasoning different viands. Formerly it was known in 
England as " Lurk in ditch," and " Eun by the ground," 
from its. creeping nature, and love of a damp soil. Its 
first titles were " Puliall Royall," and " Hop Marjoram." 
A chaplet of Pennyroyal was considered admirable for 
clearing the brain. Treadwell says, the Pennyroyal 
was especially put into hog's puddings, which were 
made of flour, currants, and spice, and stuffed into the 
en trail of a hog. 

The oil of Pennyroyal is used commercially in France 
and Germany. Its distilled water is carminative and 
anti-spasmodic ; whilst the whole plant is essentially 
stimulating. The fresh herb yields about one per cent, 
of a volatile oil containing oxygen, but of which the 
exact composition has not been ascertained. From 
two to eight drops may be given as a dose in suitable 
cases, but not where feverish or inflammatory symptoms 
are present. 

If added to an ordinary embrocation the oil of 



Pennyroyal increases the reddening and the benumbing 
(anodyne) effects, acting in the same way as menthol 
(oil of Peppermint) for promptly dispelling severe 
neuralgic pain. With respect to the Pennyroyal, folk 
speak in Devonshire of " Organs," " Organ Tea," and 
" Organ Broth." An essence is made of the oil, mixed 
and diluted with spirit of wine. The Pennyroyal has 
proved useful in whooping cough ; but the chief pur- 
pose to which it has long been devoted, is that of 
promoting the monthly flow with women. Haller says 
he never knew an infusion of the herb in white wine, 
with steel, to fail of success ; Qaod vie nunquam fefdlit. 
It is certain that m some parts of England preparations 
of Pennyroyal are in considerable demand, and a great 
number of women ascribe eniinenagogue properties to it, 
that is, the power of inducing the periodical monthly 
flux. Many married women of intelligence and close 
observation, assert as a positive fact, that Pennyroyal 
will bring on the periodical flow when suppressed ; and 
yet the eminent jurisprudist. Dr. Taylor, was explicit 
in declaring that Pennyroyal has no such properties. 
He stated that it has no more eff^ect on the womb than 
peppermint or camphor water. So there is difficulty in 
collecting evidence as regards the real action of Penny- 
royal in such respect. Chemists supply the medicine 
in the full belief of this eminent opinion just quoted : 
at the same time they know it is not wanted for 
" catarrh of the chest," as alleged. The purchaser keeps 
her secret to herself, and does not communicate her 
experience to anyone. Dr. Taylor evidently supposed 
Peppermint water and Camphor water to be almost 
inert, especially as exercising any toxical eff'ect on the 
womb. The medicinal basis of the latter is certainly a 
powerful agent, and its stimulating volatile principles 



are found to exist in most of the aromatic herbs ; 
in fact, Camphor is a concrete volatile vegetable oil, and 
camphoraceous properties signalise all the essences 
derived from carminative Herbal Simples. 

The Camphor of commerce is secreted by trees of the 
laurel sort native to China and Japan, whilst coming also 
.from the West Indies. Everyone knows by sight and 
smell the white crystalline granular semi-translucent gum, 
strongly odorous, and having a warm pungent charac- 
teristic taste. Branches, leaves, and chips of the trees 
are soaked in water until it is saturated with the extract, 
which is then turned out into an earthen basin to 
coagulate. This is completely soluble in spirit of wine, 
but scarcely at all in water ; nevertheless, if a lump of 
the Camphor be kept in a bottle of fresh water, to be 
drawn off from time to time as required, it will constitute 
Camphor julep. A wineglassful of it serves to relieve 
nervous headache and hysterical depression. 

The domestic uses of Camphor are multiple, and 
within moderate limits perfectly safe ; but a measure of 
caution should be exercised, as was shown a while 
ago by the school-boy, whom his mother furnished 
affectionately after the holidays with a bottle of 
supersaturated pilules to be taken one or two at a time 
against any incipient catarrh or cold. The whole 
bottleful was devoured at once as a sweetmeat, and the 
lad's life was rescued with difficulty because of intense 
nervous shock occasioned thereby. 

An old Latin adage declares that Camphora per naves 
emasculat mav'es, "Camphor in excess makes men eunuchs," 
even when imbibed only through the air as a continuous 
practice. And, therefore, as a "similar" the odorous gum, 
in small repeated doses, is an excellent sexual restorative. 
Likewise, persons who have taken poisonous, or large 



probative quantities of Camphor found themselves 
quickly affected by exhausting choleraic diarrhoea ; and 
Hahnemann therefore advised, with much success, to 
give (in doses of from one to three or four drops on 
sugar), repeatedly for cholera, a tincture of Camphor 
(Rubini's) made with spirit of wine above proof. This 
absorbs as much as is possibly soluble of the drug. 

Physiologically Camphor acts by reducing reflex 
nervous irritability. Externally its spirit makes an 
admirable warming liniment, either by itself, or when 
conjoined with other rubefacients. In persons poisoned 
by the drug, all the superficial blood vessels of the 
bodily skin have been found immensely dilated ; acting 
on a knowledge of which fact anyone wishing to produce 
copious general sweating, may do so by sitting over a 
plate on which Camphor is heated, whilst a blanket 
envelops the body loosely, and is pinned round the neck 
so that the fumes do not get down the throat. 

In medical books of the last centur}^ this substance 
was called " Camphire." To a certain extent its efflu- 
vium is noxious to insects, and it may therefore be 
employed for preserving specimens, as well as for 
protecting fabrics against moths. But its volatile odours 
swiftly evaporate, and become even offensively diffused 
about the room. In a moderate measure Camphor is 
antiseptic, and lessens urinary irritation. Recently a 
dose of ninety-six grains, taken toxically, produced 
giddiness, then epileptic convulsions, with dilated pupils, 
and stertor of breathing. 

The Peppermint {Mentha piperita), or " Bcandy Mint," 
so called because having a pungent smell, and taste of a 
peppery {piper) nature, is a labiate plant, found not 
uncommonly in moist places throughout Britain, and 
occurring of several varieties. Both it and the Spearmint 



probably escaped from cultivation at first, and then 
became our wild plants. Its leaves and stems exhale 
a powerful, refreshing, characteristic aroma, and give a 
taste which, whilst delicate at first, is quickly followed 
by a sense of numbness and coldness, increased by 
inspiring strongly. Preparations of Peppermint, when 
swallowed, diffuse warmth in the stomach and mouth, 
acting as a stimulating carminative, with some amount 
of anodyne power to allay the pain of colic, flatulence, 
spasm, or indigestion. This is through the powerful 
volatile oil, of which the herb yields one per cent. 

Its bruised fresh leaves, if applied, will relieve local 
pains and headache. A hot infusion, taken as tea, 
soothes stomach ache, allays sickness, and stays colicky 
diarrhoea. This will also subdue menstrual colic in the 
female. The essential oil owes its virtues to the menthol, 
or mint camphor, which it contains. 

The Peppermint is largely grown at Mitcham, and is 
distilled on the ground at a low temperature, the water 
which comes away with the oil not being re-distilled, 
but allowed for the most part to run ofl". 

Chinese oil of Peppermint {Po Ho Yo) yields menthol 
in a solid crystalline form, which, when rubbed over the 
surface of a painful neuralgic part, will afford speedy 
and marked relief, as also for neuralgic tooth-ache, tic 
douloureux, and the like grievous troubles. It is sold in 
diminutive bottles and cases labelled with Chinese 
characters. An ethereal tincture of menthol is made 
officinally with one part of menthol to eight parts of 
pure ether. If some of this is inhaled by vaporisation 
from a mouthpiece inhaler, or is sprayed into the nostrils 
and hindermost throat, it will relieve acute affections 
thereof, and of the nose, by making the blood vessels 
contract, and by arresting the flow of mucous discharge, 



thus diminishing the congestion, and quieting the pain. 
This camphoraceous oil was formerly applied by the 
Romans to the temples for the cure of headache. In 
local rheumatic affections the skin may be painted 
1)eneficially with oil of Peppermint. For internal use, 
from one to three drops of the oil may be given as a 
dose on sugar, or in a spoonful of milk ; but the diluted 
essence, made from some of the oil admixed with spirit 
of wine, is to be preferred. Put on cotton wool into the 
hollow of a carious tooth, a drop or two of the essential 
oil will often ease the pain speedily. The fresh plant, 
bruised, and applied against the pit of the stomach over 
the navel, will allay sickness, and is useful to stay the 
diarrhceic purging of young children. From half to one 
teaspoonful of the spirituous essence of Peppermint may 
be given for a dose with two tablespoonfuls of hot water ; 
OT, if Peppermint water be chosen, the dose of this 
should be from half to one wineglassful. Distilled 
Peppermint water should be preferred to that prepared 
by adding the essence to common water. Lozenges made 
of the oil, or the essence, are admirable for affording 
ease in colic, flatulence, and nausea. They will also 
prevent or relieve sea-sickness. 

When Tom Hood lay a dying he turned his eyes feebly 
towards the window on hearing it rattle in the night, 
whereupon his wife, who was watching him, said softly, 
*' It's only the wind, dear " ; to which he replied, with 
a sense of humour indomitable to the last, " Then put a 
Peppermint lozenge on the sill." 

Two sorts of this herb are cultivated for the market — 
black and white Peppermint, the first of which furnishes 
the most, but not the best oil. The former has purple 
stems, and the latter green. As an antiseptic, and 
destroyer of disease germs, this oil is signally efficacious, 



on which important account it is now used for inhalation 
by consumptive patients as a volatile vapour to reach 
remote diseased parts of the lung passages, and to heal 
by destroying the morbid germs w^hich are keeping u}) 
mischief therein. Towards proving this preservative 
power exercised by the oil of Peppermint, pieces of 
meat, and of fat, wrapped in several layers of gauze 
medicated with the oil have been kept for seven months 
sweet, and free from putrescent changes. A simple 
respirator for inhaling the oil is made from a piece of 
thin perforated zinc plate adapted to the shape of the 
mouth and nostrils like a small open funnel, within the 
narrow end of which is fitted a pledget of cotton wool 
saturated with twenty drops of the oil, or from twenty 
to thirty drops of the spirituous essence. This should 
be renewed each night and morning, whilst the apparatus 
is to be worn nearly all day. At the same time the oil 
is agreeable of odour, and is altogether harmless. It 
may be serviceably admixed with liniments for use to 
rheumatic parts. 

" Peppermint," says Dr. Hughes (Brighton), " should 
be more largely employed than it is in coughs, especially 
in a dry cough, however caused, when it seems to act 
specifically as a cure, just as arnica does for injuries, or 
aconite for febrile inflammation. It will relieve even 
the irritative hectic cough of consumptive patients. 
Eight or ten drops of the essence should be given for 
this purpose as a dose with a tablespoonful of water. 
Iti France continuous inhalations of Peppermint oil com- 
bined with creasote and glycerine, have become used most 
successfully, even when cavities exist in the lungs, with 
copious bacillary expectoration. The cough, the niglit 
sweats, and the heavy phlegm have been arrested, whilst 
the nutrition and the weight have steadily increased." 



A solution of menthol one grain, spirit of wine fifty 
drops, and oil of cloves ten drops, if painted over the 
seat of pain, will relieve neuralgia of the face, or sciatica 
promptly. Unhealthy sores may be cleansed, and their 
healing promoted, by being dressed with strips of soft 
rag dipped in sweet oil, to each ounce of which one 
or two drops of the oil of Peppermint has been added. 
For diphtheria. Peppermint oil has been of marked use 
when applied freely twice or three times in the day to 
the ulcerated parts of the throat. This oil, or the essence, 
can be used of any strength, in any quantity, without 
the least harm to the patient. It checks suppuration 
when applied to a sore or wound, whilst exercising an 
independent antiseptic influence. "Altogether," says 
Dr. Braddon, " the oil of Peppermint forms the best, 
safest, and most agreeable of known antiseptics." Pliny 
tells that the Greeks and Komans crowned them- 
selves with the Peppermint at their feasts, and adorned 
their al fresco tables with its sprays. The "chefs" 
introduced this herl) into all their sauces, and scented 
their wines with its essence. The Eoman housewives 
made a paste of the Peppermint with honey, which they 
esteemed highly, partaking of it to sweeten their breath, 
and to conceal their passion for wine at a time when the 
law punished with death every woman convicted of 
quaffing the ruby seductive liquor. Seneca perished in 
a bath scented with woolly mint. 

The Spearmint {Mentha viridis) is found growing 
apparently wild in England, but is probably not an 
indigenous herb. It occurs in watery places, and on the 
banks of rivers, such as the Thames, and the Exe. If used 
externally, its strong decoction will heal chaps and 
indolent eruptions. 

It possesses a warm, aromatic odour and taste, much 



resembling those of Peppermint, but not so pungent. 
Its volatile oil, and its essence, made with spirit of 
wine, contain a similar stimulating principle, but are 
less intense, and therefore better adapted for children's 

The Spearmint is called "Mackerel Mint," and in 
Germany " Lady's Mint," with a pun on the word miln.ze. 
Its name, Spear, or Spire, indicates the spiry form of 
its floral blossoming. When the leaves of the herb are 
macerated in milk, this curdles much less quickly 
than it otherwise would ; and therefore the essence is 
to be commended for use with milk diets by delicate 
persons, or for young children of feeble digestive powers, 
though not when feverishness is present. " Spearmint," 
says John Evelyn, "is friendly to the weak stomach, 
and powerful against all nervous crudities." " This is 
the Spearmint that steadies giddiness,'^ writes Alfred 
Austin, Poet Laureate. 

Our cooks employ it with vinegar for making the 
mint sauce which we eat with roast lamb, because of its 
condimentary virtues as a spice to the immature meat, 
whilst the acetic acid of the vinegar serves to help 
dissolve the crude albuminous fibre. 

The oil is less used than that of Peppermint. From 
two to five drops may be given on sugar ; or from half 
to one teaspoonful of the spirit of Spearmint with two 
tablespoonfuls of water. Also a distilled water of 
Spearmint is made, which will relieve hiccough, and 
flatulence, as well as the giddiness of indigestion. The 
tincture prepared from the dried herb looks of a bright 
dark green by day, but of a deep red colour by night. 
Martial called the Spearmint Budatrix mentha. " Sec 
deest rudatrix mentha 

The Calamint, or Basil Thyme, grows frequently in 



our waysides and hedges, a labiate plant, with downj^ 
stems and leaves, whilst bearing light purple flowers. 
The whole herb has a sweet, aromatic odour, and makes 
a pleasant cordial tea. It is named from the Greek kalos, 
" excellent," because thought useful against serpents. 
"There is made hereof," said Galen, "an antidote 
marvellous good for young women that want their 

The stem of this pretty slender herb is seldom more 
than five or six inches high, and its blossoms are so 
inconspicuous as to be often overlooked. The flowers 
droop gracefully before expansion. In country places it 
is often called Mill Mountain, and its infusion is an old 
remedy for rheumatism. If bruised, and applied 
externally, it reddens the skin, and will sometimes even 
blister it. In this way it acts well when judiciously 
used for lumbago, and rheumatic pains. The Calamint 
contains a camphoraceous, volatile, stimulating oil, in 
common with the other mints ; this is distilled by 
water, but its virtues are better extracted by rectified 
spirit. The lesser Calamint is a variety of the herb 
possessing almost superior virtues, with a stronger odour 
resembling that of Pennyroyal. " Apple Mint " is the 
" Me7dha rotundifolia.'' 

" Many robust men and women among our peasantry," 
says Dr. George Moore, "from notions of their own, use 
infusions of Balm, Sage, or even a little Rue, or wild 
Thyme, as a common drink, with satisfaction to their 
stomachs, and advantage to their health, instead of 
infusing the Chinese herb." The Calamint is a favourite 
h€rb with such persons. About the Cat mint there is 
an old saying, " If you set it the cats will eat it : if you 
sow it the cats won't know it." This, the Nepeta cataria, 
or herhe aiix chats, is as much beloved by cats as Valerian, 



and the common Marum, for which herbs they have a 
frenzied passion. They roll themselves over the plants, 
vi^hich they lick, tear with their teeth, and bathe with 
their urine. But the Cat mint is the detestation of 
rats, insomuch that with its leaves a small barricade 
may be constructed which the vermin will never pass 
however hungry they may be. It is sometimes called 
"Nep," as contracted from Nepda. Hoffman said, 
" The root of the Cat mint, if chewed, will make the 
most gentle person fierce and quarrelsome " ; and there is 
a legend of a certain hangman who could never find 
courage to exercise his gruesome task until he had 
masticated some of this aromatic root. 


The Mistletoe, which we all associate so happily with 
the festivities of Christmas, is an evergreen parasite, 
growing on the branches of deciduous trees, and pene- 
trating with simple roots through the bark into the 
wood. It belongs to the Loranthacece, and has the 
botanical name of Viscum, or " sticky," because of its 
glutinous juices. The Mistletoe contains mucilage, 
sugar, a fixed oil, resin, an odorous principle, some 
tannin, and various salts. Its most interesting constituent 
is the " viscin," or bird glue, which is mainly developed 
by fermentation, and becomes a yelloAvish, sticky, 
resinous mass, such as can be used with success as a 

The dried young twigs, and the leaves, are chiefly the 
medicinal parts, though young children have been 
attacked with convulsions after eating freely of the 

The name (in Anglo-Saxon, Mistiltan) is derived, says 
Dr. Prior, ivommistiU " different," and tan, "a twig," be- 



cause so unlike the tree it grows upon ; or, perhaps, mist 
may refer to excrement, and the adjective, viscum, bear 
some collateral reference to viscera, " entrails." Probably 
our viscum plant differs from that of the Latin writers 
in their accounts of the Druids, which would be the 
Loranthus growing on the Quercus pubescens (an oak 
indigenous to the south of France). They knew it by a 
name answering to " all-heal." It is of a larger and 
thicker sort than our common Mistletoe, which, however, 
possesses the same virtues in a lesser degree. The 
Germans call the plant Vogellein, and the French Gui, 
which is probably Celtic. 

The plant is given powdered, or as an infusion, or 
made into a tincture (H.) with spirit of wine. From ten 
to sixty grains of the powder may be taken for a dose, 
or a decoction may be made by boiling two ounces of 
the bruised plant with half-a-pint of water, and giving 
one tablespoonful for a dose several times in the day ; or 
from five to ten drops of the tincture (which is prepared 
almost exclusively by the homoeopathic chemists) are 
a dose, with one or two tablespoonfuls of cold water. 

Sir John Colebatch published in 1720 a pamphlet, on 
The Treatment of Epilepsy by Mistletoe, regarding it, and 
with much justice, as a specific. He procured the parasite 
from the lime trees at Hampton Court. The powdered 
leaves were ordered to be given (in black cherry water)^ 
as much of these as will lie on a sixpence every morning. 

Sir John says, "This beautiful plant must have been 
designed by the Almighty for further and more noble 
purposes than barely to feed thrushes, or to be hung up 
superstitiously in houses to drive away evil spirits." 
His treatise was entitled, A Dissertation concerning the 
Misseltoe — A most wonderful Specifick Remedy for the Cure 
of Convulsive Distempers. The physiological effect of the 



plant is that of lessening, and temporarily benumbing 
such nervous action as is reflected to distant organs 
of the body from some central organ which is the 
actual seat of trouble. In this way the spasms of epi- 
lepsy and of other convulsive distempers, are allayed. 
Large doses of the plant, or of its berries, would, on 
the contrary, aggravate these convulsive disorders. 

In a French ^' Bemieil de Bemedes domestiqites,'' 1682, 
Avec privilege du lloij, we read, de I'epilepsie : " II est 
certain que contre ce deplorable mal le veritable Guy de 
.Chene (Mistletoe) est un remede excellent, curatif, 
preservatif, et qui soulage beaucoup dans I'accident. 
II le faut secher au four apres qu'on aura tire le pain : 
le mettre en poudre fort subtile ; passer cette poudre 
par un tamis de foye, et la conserver pour le besoin. II 
faut prendre les poids dun ecu d'or de cette poudre 
£haque matin dans vin blanc tous les trois derniers 
jours de la lune vieille. II est encore bon que la personne 
affligee de ce mal porte toujours un morceau de Guy 
de Chene pendu a son col ; mais ce morceau doit etre 
toujours frais, et sans avoir ete mis au four." The active 
part of the plant is its resin (visciri), which is yielded to 
spirit of wine in making a tincture. This is prepared (H.) 
with proof spirit from the leaves and ripe berries 
of our Mistletoe in equal quantities, but it is difficult of 
manufacture owing to the viscidity of the sap. A special 
process is employed of passing the material twice through 
a sausage machine, and then mixing the mass with 
powdered glass before its percolation with the spirit. 
A trituration made from the leaves, berries, and tender 
twigs, is given for epilepsy, in doses of twenty grains, 
twice or three times a day. 

Nowadays the berries are taken by country people 
when finding themselves troubled with severe stitches. 



and they obtain almost instantaneous relief. In accord- 
ance with which experience Johnson says it was 
creditably reported to him, "That a few of the berries 
of the Misseltoe, bruised and strained into oyle and 
drunken, hath presently and forthwith rid a grievous 
and sore stitch." The tincture, moreover, is put to a 
modern use as a heart tonic in place of the foxglove. 
It lessens reflex irritability, and strengthens the heart's 
beat, whilst raising the frequency of a slow pulse. Dr. 
J. Wilde has shown that the Mistletoe possesses a high 
repute in rural Hampshire for the cure of St. Vitus's 
dance, and similar spasmodic nervous complaints. In 
the United States the leaves have been successfully 
employed as an infusion to check female fluxes, and 
haemorrhages, also to hasten childbirth by stimulating 
the womb when labour is protracted to the exhaustion 
of the mother. In Scotland the planu is almost 
unknown, and is restricted to one locality only. 

The Druids regarded the Mistletoe as the soul of 
their sacred tree — the oak ; and they taught the people 
to believe that oaks on which it was seen growing were 
to be respected, because of the wonderful cures which 
the priests were then able to effect with it, particularly 
of the falling sickness. The parasite was cut from the 
tree with a golden sickle at a high and solemn festival, 
using much ceremonial display, it being then credited 
with a special power of " giving fertility to all 
animals." Ovid said, " Ad viscum cantare Druidoe 

Shakespeare calls it The baleful Mistletoe," in 
allusion to the Scandinavian legend, that Balder, the 
god of peace, was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. 
He was restored to life at the request of the other gods 
and goddesses. The mistletoe was afterwards given to 



be kept by the goddess of love ; and it was ordained in 
Olympus that every one who passed under it should 
receive a kiss, to show that the branch was the emblem 
of love, and not of death. 

Persons in Sweden afflicted with epilepsy carry with 
them a knife having a handle of oak mistletoe, which 
plant they call Thunder-besom, connecting it with light- 
ning and fire. The thrush is the great disseminator of 
the parasite. He devours the berries eagerly, and soils, 
or "missels" his feet with their viscid seeds, conveying 
them thus from tree to tree, and getting thence the 
name of missel thrush. 

In Brittany the plant is named Herhe de la croix, and, 
because the crucifix was made from its wood when 
a tree, it is thought to have become degraded to a 

When Norwood, in Surrey, was really a forest the 
Mistletoe grew there on the oak, and, being held as 
medicinal, it was abstracted for apothecaries in London. 
But the men who meddled with it were said to become 
lame, or to fall blind with an eye, and a rash fellow who 
ventured to cut down the oak itself broke his leg very 
shortly afterwards. One teaspoonful of the dried leaves, 
in powder, from the appletree Mistletoe, taken in acidu- 
lated water twice a day, will cure chronic giddiness. 
Sculptured sprays and berries, with leaves of Mistletoe, 
fill the spandrils of the tomb of one of the Berkeleys 
in Bristol Cathedral — a very rare adornment, because 
for some unknown reason the parasite has been always 
excluded from the decorations of churches. In some 
districts it is called Devil's-fuge, also the Spectre's Wand, 
from a belief that with due incantations a branch held 
in the hand will compel the appearance of a spectre, and 
require it to speak. 




A somewhat common, and handsomely conspicuous tree 
in many parts of England, especially about high lands, 
is the Kowan, or Mountain Ash. In May and June it 
attracts attention by its bright green feathery foliage 
set off by cream-coloured bloom, whilst in September it 
bears a brilliant fruitage of berries, richly orange in 
colour at first, but presently of a clear ripe vermilion. 
Popularly this abundant fruit is supposed to be poisonous, 
but such is far from being the case. A most excellent 
and wholesome jelly may be prepared therefrom, which 
is slightly tonic by its salutary bitterness, and is an 
admirable antiseptic accompaniment to certain roast 
meats, such as venison and mutton. To make this jelly, 
boil the berries in water (cold at first) in an enamelled 
preserving pan ; when the fruit has become sufficiently 
soft, run the contents of the pan through a flannel bag 
without pressure ; tie the bag between two chairs, with 
a basin below, and let the juice strain leisurely through 
so as to come out clear. Then to each pint of the juice 
add a pound of sugar, and boil this from ten to twenty 
minutes ; pour off into warm dry jars, and cover them 
securely when cool. After the juice has dripped off the 
fruit a pleasant refreshing drink may be made for 
children by pouring a kettleful of boiling water through 
the flannel bag. Some persons mix with the fruit an 
equal quantity of green apples when making the jelly. 
Birds, especially field fares, eat the berries with avidity ; 
and a botanical designation of the tree is micuparia, as 
signifying fruit used by the auceps, or bird catcher, with 
which to bait his snares. 

" There is," says an old writer, " in every berry the 
exhilaration of wine, and the satisfying of old mead ; 
and whosoever shall eat three berries of them, if he has 



completed a hundred years, he will return to the age of 
thirty years." 

At the same time it must be noted that the leavej^ 
of the Mountain Ash are of a poisonous quality, and 
contain prussic acid like those of the laurel. But, as 
already shown, the berries, when ripe, may be eaten 
freely without fear. Chemically they contain tartaric 
acid when unripe, and both malic and citric acids when 
ripe. They also furnish sorbin, and parasorbic acid. The 
unripe fruit and the bark are extremely astringent, 
being useful in decoction, or infusion, to check diarrhoea ; 
and externally in poultices or lotions, to constringe such 
relaxed parts as the throat, and lower bowel. 

The title Kowan tree has affixed itself to the Mountain 
Ash, as derived from the Norse, Piuna (a charm), because 
it is supposed to have the power of averting the evil eye. 

" Kowan tree and red thread 
Hold the witches a' in dread." 

"Runa" was really a magician, or whisperer, from ru, 
to murmur, and in olden times runes, or mystical secrets, 
were carved exclusively on the Mountain Ash tree in 
Scandinavia and the British Isles. 

Crosses made of the twigs, and tied with red thread 
were sewn by Highlandmen into their clothes. Dame 
Sludge fastened a piece of the wood into Flibberti- 
gibbet's collar as a protection against Wayland Smith's 
sorceries. — (Kenilworth). Other folk-names of the tree 
are Quicken tree, Quick Beam, Wiggen, and Witcher. 

The Mountain Ash is botanically a connecting link 
between the dog rose of our hedges and the apple tree 
of our orchards. Its flowers exactly resemble apple 
blossoms, and its thickly-clustered red berries are only 
small crabs dwarfed by the love of the tree for mountain 



heights and bleak windy situations. In the harsh cold 
regions of the north it is only a stunted shrub with 
leaves split up into many small leaflets, so as to suff'er 
less by any breadth of resistance to the sharp driving 
l)lasts of icy winds. 

Confusion has been often made between this tree and 
the Service tree (Sorbus, or F//nts domestica), which is 
([uite distinct, being more correctly called Servise tree, 
from Cerevisia, fermented beer. Formerly this Servise, 
or Checker-tree, was emploj^ed for making an intoxicating 
drink. Virgil says : — 

*' Et pocula Iseti 
Fermento atque acidis imitantuL' \itea sorbis." 

"With acid juices from the Service Ash, 
And humming ale, they make their Lemon Squash." 

The fruit of the Service tree (or Witten Pear-tree) 
resembles a small pear, and is considered in France very 
useful for dysentery because of its tannin ; but this Pyrus 
domestica is a rare tree in England. Sometimes mistaken 
for it is the ivild Service tree (the Pyrus torminalis)y 
much more common in our south country hedges. Its 
fruit is threaded on long strings, and carried in procession 
at village feasts in Northamptonshire, but is worthless. 
Evelyn says, "Ale and beer brewed from the berries, 
when ripe, of the true Service tree is an incomparable 


The herb Mugwort {Artemisia vulgaris), a Composite 
plant, is frequent about hedgerows and waste ground 
throughout Britain ; and it chiefly merits a place among 
Herbal Simples because of a special medicinal use in 
certain female derangements. Its name Mugwort has 



been attributed to " moughte," a moth, or maggot, this 
title being given to the plant because Dioscorides 
commended it for keeping off moths. Its Anglo-Saxon 
synonym is Wiirmwijrt. Mugwort is named from Artemis, 
the Greek goddess of the moon, and is also called 
Maidenwort or Motherwort (womb wort), being a plant 
beneficial to the womb. 

Macer says, terming it by mistake "Mother of Worts" : 

" Herbarum matrem justum puto ponere primo 
Prsecipue morbis mulieribus ilia medetur." 

A decoction of the fresh tops acts famously to correct 
female irregularities when employed as a bath. Uteriim 
est, adeoque usus est creherrimus mulierculis quce earn adhibent 
externe, atque interne ut vix balnea et lotiones jxirent in 
quibus artemisia non contineatur. Thus writes Ray, 
quoting from Schroder. Or it may be that the term 
Mugwort became popularly applied because this herb 
was in demand for helping to preserve ale. The plant 
was formerly known as Cingulum Saudi JoJumnis, since 
a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John's 
Eve, to gain security from evil possession ; also as 
Zona divi Johamiis, it being believed that John the Baptist 
bore a girdle of it in the wilderness. In Germany and 
Holland it has received the name of St. John's Plant, 
because, if gathered on St. J ohn's Eve, it is thought pro- 
tective against diseases and misfortunes. The Mugwort 
is also styled "Felon wort," or "Felon herb." If placed 
in the shoes, it will prevent weariness. A dram of the 
powdered leaves taken four times a day has cured 
chronic hysterical fits, which were otherwise intractable. 
"Mugwort," says Gerard, " cureth the shakings of the 
joynts inclining to the palsie." 

The mermaid of the Clyde is said to have exclaimed, 




when she beheld the funeral of a young maiden who had 
died from consumption and decline : — 

" If they wad drink nettles in March, 
And eat muggins [Mugwort] in May, 
Sae mony braw young maidens 
Wad na' be gang to clay." 

Portions of old dead roots are found at the base of 
the herb, which go by the name of "coals," and arc 
thought to be preventive of epilepsy when taken 
internally, or worn around the neck as an amulet. 
Parkinson says : " Mugwort is of wonderful help to 
women in risings of the mother, or hysteria." It is also 
useful against gout by boiling the tender parts of the 
roots in weak broth, and taking this frequently ; whilst 
at the same time the affected limbs shovdd be bathed and 
fomented with a hot decoction of the herb. The plant, 
without doubt, is decidedly anti-epileptic, its remedial 
effects being straightway followed by profuse and fetid 
perspirations. It is similarly useful against the con- 
vulsions of children in teething. For preventing dis- 
orders, as well as for curing rheumatism, the Japanese, 
young and old, rich and poor, indiscriminately, are 
said to be singed with a "moxa" made from the 
Mugwort. Its dried leaves are rubbed in the hands 
until the downy part becomes separated, and can be 
moulded into little cones. One of these having been 
placed over the site of the disease, is ignited and burnt 
down to the skin surface, which it blackens and scorches 
in a dark circular patch. This process is repeated until 
a small ulcer is formed when treating chronic diseases 
of tlie joints, which sore is kept open by issue peas 
retained within it so that they may constantly exercise 
a derivative effect. 

The flesh of geese is declared to be more savoury when 


stuffed with this herb, which contains "absinthin" as 
its active principle, and other chemical constituents in 
common with W ormwood ; but the odour of Mugwort 
is not fragrant or aromatic, because it does not possess 
a volatile essential oil like that of the Artemisia 
absinthium (Wormwood). 

This Wormwood is also a Composite plant of the 
same tribe and character, but with an intensely bitter 
taste ; and hence its name. Absinthium, has been derived 
from the Greek privative, a, and psinthos, "delight," 
because the flavour is so bitterly distasteful. It is a 
bushy plant, which abounds in our rural districts, 
having silky stems and leaves, with small heads of dull 
yellow flowers, the whole plant being amara et 

The Mugwort, as an allied Wormwood of the same 
genus, is taller and more slender than the Absinthium, 
and is distinguished by being scentless, its leaves being 
green above, and white below. The bitter taste of the 
true Wormwood is also due to "absinthin," and each 
kind contains nitrate of potash, tannin, and resin, with 
succinic, malic, and acetic acids. 

Old Tusser says : — 

Where chamber is swept, and wormwood is strown, 
No flea for his life dare abide to be known." 

And again : — • 

" What savour is better, if physic be true, 
For places infected, than wormwood and rue." 

The infusion of Wormwood makes a useful fomentation 
for inflammatory pains, and, combined with chamomile 
flowers and bay leaves, it formed the anodyne fomenta- 
tion of the earlier dispensatories. This infusion, Avith a 
few drops of the essential oil of AVormwood, will serve 



as ail astringent wash to prevent the hair from falling 
off when it is weak and thin. 

Both Mugwort and Wormwood have been highly 
esteemed for overcoming epilepsy in persons of a feeble 
constitution, and of a sensitive nervous temperament, 
especially in young females. Mugwort tea, and a 
decoction of Wormwood, may be confidently given for 
the purposes just named, also to correct female irregu- 

For promoting the monthly flow, Chinese women 
make a confection of the leaves of Mugwort mixed with 
rice and sugar, which, when needed to overcome arrested 
monthly fluxes, or hysteria, they instar hellaria ingerunt, 
" eat as a sweetmeat." 

A drachm of the powdered leaves of the Mugwort, 
taken four times a day, has cured chronic hysterical fits 
otherwise irrepressible. The true Wormwood {Artemisia 
absinthium) is used for preparing absinthe, a seductive 
liqueur, which, when taken to excess, induces epileptic 
attacks. Any habitual use of alcohol flavoured with this 
herb singularly impairs the mental and physical powers. 

"An ointment," says Meyrick, "made of the juice of 
Mugwort with hogs' lard, disperses hard knots and 
kernels about the neck and throat." 


The Mulberry tree (Moms nigra) has been cultivated in 
England since the middle of the sixteenth century, 
being first planted at Sion house in 1548. It is now 
grown commonly in the garden, orchard, or pad- 
dock, where its well-known rich syrupy fruit ripens 
in September. This fruit, abounding with a luscious 
juice of regal hue, is used in some districts, particularly 
in Devonshire, for mixing with cider during fermenta- 



tion, giving to the beverage a pleasant taste, and a deep 
red colour. The juice, made into syrup, is curative of 
sore throats, especially of the putrid sort, if it be used 
in gargles ; also of thrush in the mouth, if applied 
thereto ; and the ripe fruit is gently laxative. 

Horace recommends that Mulberries be gathered 
before sunset : — 

" ^statis peraget qui nigris prandia moris 
Finiet ante gravem quse legerit arbore solem." 

The generic name. Morns, is derived from the Celtic 
moT, "black." In Germany (at Iserlohn), mothers, in 
order to deter their children from eating Mulberries, tell 
them the devil requires the juicy berries for the purpose 
of blacking his boots. This fruit was fabled to have 
become changed from white to a deep red through 
absorbing the blood of Pyramus and Thisbe, who were 
slain beneath its shade. 

It is thought by some that "morus " has been derived 
from the Latin word mom, delay, as shown in a tardy 
expansion of the buds. Because cautious not to burst 
into leaf until the last frost of spring is over, the 
Mulberry tree, as the wisest of its fellows, was dedicated 
by the ancients to Minerva, and the story of Pyramus 
and Thisbe owed its origin to the white and black 
fruited varieties : — 

" The Mulberry found its former whiteness fled, 
And, ripening, saddened into dusky red." 

Shakespeare's famous Mulberry tree, planted in 1609, 
was of the black species. It was recklessly cut down 
at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, in 1759. Ten years 
afterwards, when the freedom of the city Avas presented 
to Garrick, the document was enclosed in a casket made 
from the wood of this tree. Likewise a cup was 



wrought therefrom, and at the Shakespeare Jubilee, 
Garrick, holding the cup aloft, recited the following 
lines, composed by himself for the occasion : — 

" Behold this fair goblet : 'twas carved from the tree 
Which, oh, my sweet Shakespeare, was planted by thee ! 
Asa relic I kiss it, and bow at thy shrine, 
What comes from thy hand must be ever divine." 

" All shall yield to the Mulberry tree ; 
Bend to the blest Mulberry : 
Matchless was he who planted thee, 
And thou, like him, immortal shall be." 

A slip of it was groAvn by Garrick in his garden at 
Hampton Court. The leaves of the Mulberry tree are 
known to furnish excellent food for silk worms. 

Botanically, each fruit is a collection of berries on a 
common pulpy receptacle, being, like the Strawberry, 
especially wholesome for those who are liable to heart- 
burn, because it does not undergo acetous fermenta- 
tion in the stomach. In France Mulberries are served 
at the beginning of a meal. Among the Romans the 
fruit was famous for maladies of the throat and windpipe. 

The tree does not bear until it is somewhat advanced 
in age. It contains in every part a milky juice, which 
will coagulate into a sort of Indian rubber, and this has 
been thought to give tenacity to the filament spun by 
the silkworm. 

The juice of Mulberries contains malic and citric 
acids, with glucose, pectin, and gum. The bark of 
the root has been given to expel tapeworm ; and the 
fruit is remarkable for its large quantity of sugar, being 
excelled in this respect only by the fig, the grape, and 
the cherry. 

We are told in Imiilioe that the Saxons made a 
favourite drink, "Morat," from the juice of Mulberries 



with honey. During the thirteenth century these 
berries were sometimes called " pynes." 

In the memorable narrative of the Old Testament, 
2 Samuel, v., 24, " When thou hearest the sound of a 
going in the tops of the Mulberry trees," the word 
used (bekhaim) has been mistranslated, really intending 
the Aspen (Populus tremula). 


The great Mullein ( Verhascum thapsus) grows freely in 
England on dry banks and waste places, but some- 
what sparingly in Scotland. It belongs to the scrofula- 
curing order of plants, having a thick stalk, from eighteen 
inches to four feet high, with large woolly mucilaginous 
leaves, and with a long flower-spike bearing plain yellov.^ 
flowers, which are nearly sessile on the stem. The name 
" Molayne " is derived from the Latin, mollis, soft. 

In most parts of Ireland, besides growing wild, it is 
carefully cultivated in gardens, because of a steady 
demand for the plant by sufferers from pulmonary 
consumption. Constantly in Irish newspapers there are 
advertisements offering it for sale, and it can be had 
from all the leading local druggists. The leaves 
are best when gathered in the late summer, just 
before the plant flowers. The old Irish method of 
administering Mullein is to put an ounce of the 
dried leaves, or a corresponding quantity of the 
fresh ones, in a pint of milk, which is boiled for ten 
minutes, and then strained. This is afterwards given 
warm to the patient twice a day, with or without sugar. 
The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous, and 
cordial. Dr. Quinlan, of Dublin, treated many cases of 
tubercular lung disease, even when some were far 
advanced in pulmonary consumption, with the Mullein, 



and with signal success as regards palliating the cough, 
staying the expectoration, and increasing the weight. 

Mullein leaves have a weak, sleepy sort of smell, and 
rather a bitter taste. In Queen Elizabeth's time they 
were carried about the person to prevent the falling 
sickness ; and distilled water from the flowers was said 
to be curative of gout. 

The leaves and flowers contain mucilage, with a - 
yellowish volatile oil, a fatty substance, and sugar, 
together with some colouring matter. Fish will become 
stupefied by eating the seeds. Gerard says "Figs do 
not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of 
Mullein. If worn under the feet day and night in the 
manner of a sock they bring down in young maidens 
their desired sicknesse." 

The plant bears also the name of Hedge Taper, and 
used to be called Torch, because the stalks were dipped 
in suet, and burnt for giving light at funerals and other 
gatherings. "It is a plant," says the Grete Herbal!^ 
"whereof is made a manner of lynke if it be tallowed." 

According to Dodceus the Mullein was called 
" Candela." Folia siquidem habet mollia hirsuta ad lucer- 
narwin funiculos apta. "It was named of the Latines, 
Candela Regia and CandelariaJ' The modern Romans 
style it the " Plant of the Lord." Other popular English 
names of the plant are " Adam's flannel," " Blanket," 
" Shepherd's club," "Aaron's rod," " Cuddle's lungs"; and 
in Anglo-Saxon, "Feldwode." Gower says of Medea:— 

" Tho' toke she feldwode, and verveine, 
Of herbes ben nought better tweine." 

The name Verbascwn is an altered form of the Latin 
barbasatm, from barba, "a beard," in allusion to the dense 
Woolly hairs on both sides of the leaves ; and the 



appellation, Mullein, is got from the French iiiolhie, 
signifying the "scab" in cattle, and for curing which 
disease the plant is famous. It has also been termed 
Cow's Lung Wort, Hare's Beard, Jupiter's Staff, Ladies' 
Foxglove, and Velvet Dock from its large soft leaves. The 
Mullein bears the title " Bullock's lungwort," because of 
its supposed curative powers in lung diseases of thi.s 
animal, on the doctrine of signatures, because its leaf 
re3emblcs a dewlap ; and the term " Malandre " was 
formerly applied to the lung maladies of cattle. Also the 
" Malanders " meant leprosy, whence it came about 
that the epithet "Malandrin" was attached to a brigand, 
who, like the leper, was driven from society and forced 
to lead a lawless life. 

An infusion of the flowers was used by the Roman 
ladies to tinge their tresses of the golden colour 
once so much admired in Italy ; and now in Germany, 
a hair wash made from the Mullein is valued 
as highly restorative. A decoction of the root is 
good for cramps and against the megrims of bilious 
subjects, which especially beset them in the dark winter 
months. The dried leaves of the Mullein plant, if 
smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe, will completely 
control the hacking cough of consumption ; and they can 
be employed with equal benefit, when made into cigar- 
ettes, for asthma, and for spasmodic coughs in general. 

By our leading English druggists are now dispensed a 
succiis verhasci (Mullein juice), of which the dose is from 
half to one teaspoonful; a tincture of Ferbascnm (Mullein), 
the dose of which is from half-a-teaspoonful to two tea- 
spoonfuls ; and an infusion of Mullein, in doses of from 
one to four tablespoonfuls. Also a tincture (H.) is made 
from the fresh herb with spirit of wine, which has been 
proved beneficial foi- migraine (sick head-ache) of long 



standing, with oppression of the ears. From eight to 
ten drops of this tincture are to be given as a dose, with 
cold water, and repeated pretty frequently whilst needed. 

Mullein oil is a most valuable destroyer of disease 
germs. If fresh flowers of the plant be steeped for 
twenty-one days in olive oil whilst exposed to the 
sunlight, this makes an admirable bactericide ; also by 
simply instilling a few drops two or three times a day 
into the ear, all pain therein, or discharges therefrom, 
and consequent deafness, will be eff'ectually cured, 
as well as any itching eczema of the external ear and its 
canal. A conserve of the flowers is employed on the 
Continent against ringworm. Some of the most brilliant 
results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation 
of the inner ear by a single application of Mullein oil. 
In acute or chronic cases of this otorrhoea, two or three 
drops of the oil should be made fall into the ear twice 
or thrice in the day. And the same oil is an admirable 
remedy for children who " wet the bed " at night. Five 
drops should be put into a small tumblerful of cold 
water ; and a teaspoonful of the mixture, first stirred, 
should be taken four times in the day. 

Flowers of Mullein in olive oil, when kept near the 
fire for several days in a corked bottle, form a remedy 
popular in Germany for frost-bites, bruises, and piles. 
Also a poultice made with the leaves is a good applica- 
tion to these last named troublesome evils. For the 
cure of piles, sit for five minutes on a chamber vessel 
containing live coals, with crisp dry Mullein leaves over 
them, and some finely powdered resin. 


Without giving descriptive attention to those Mush- 
rooms {Agarics, Boleti, and others) which are edible, and 



of which over a hundred may be enumerated, as beyond 
our purpose when treating of curative Herbal Simples, 
notice will be bestowed here on two productions of the 
Mushroom nature — the Puff Ball and the Fly Agaric, — 
because of their medicinal qualities. 

It may be first briefly stated that the Agaricus 
campestris, or field Mushroom, is the kind most commonly 
eaten in England, being highly nitrogenous, and con- 
taining much fat. This may be readily distinguished 
from any harmful fungus by the pink colour of its gills, 
the solidity of its stem, the fragrant anise-like odour 
which it possesses, and the separability of its outer skin. 
Other edible Mushrooms which grow with us, and are 
even of a better quality than the above, are the Agaricus 
augustus and the Agaricus elvensis, not to mention the 
Chantarelle, said to be unapproachable for excellence. 

The Greeks were aware of edible fungi, and knew of 
injurious sorts which produced a sense of choking, whilst 
subsequent wasting of the body occurred. Athenaeus 
quotes an author who said : " You will be choked like 
those who waste after eating mushrooms." The Romans 
also esteemed some fungi as of so exquisite a flavour 
that these would be stolen sooner than silver or gold by 
anyone entrusted with their delivery : — 

" Argentum, atque aurum facile est Isenamqiie togamque. 
Mittere, boletos mittere difficile est,'' 

Mushrooms were styled by Porphry deorum filii, and 
" without seed, as produced by the midwifery of 
autumnal thunderstorms, and portending the mischief 
which these cause." "They are generally reported to 
have something noxious in them, and not without 
reason ; but they were exalted to the second course of 
the Csesarean tables with the noble title " bromatheon," 


a dainty fit for the gods, to whom they sent the 
Emperor Claudius, as they have many since to the other 
world." " So true it is he who eats Mushrooms many 
times, nil amplius edit, eats no more of anything." 

The poisonous kinds may be commonly recognised by 
their possessing permanently white gills which do not 
touch the stem; and a thin ring, or frill, is borne by the 
stem at some distance from the top, whilst the bottom 
of the stem is surrounded by a loose sheath, or volva. 
If " phalline " is the active poisonous principle, this is 
not rendered inert by heat in cooking ; but thehelvellic 
acid of other sorts disappears during the process, and its 
fungi are thus made ncn-poisonous. There is a popular 
belief that Mushrooms which grow near iron, copper, or 
other metals, are deadly ; the same idea obtaining in the 
custom of putting a coin in the water used for boiling- 
Mushrooms in order that it may attract and detach any 
poison, and so serve to make them wholesome. 

In Essex there is an old saying : — 

" When the moon is at the full, 
Mushrooms you may freely pull; 
But when the moon is on the wane, 
Wait till you think to pluck again," 

Even the most poisonous species may be eaten with 
impunity after repeated maceration in salt and water, 
or vinegar and water — which custom is generally 
adopted in the South of Europe, where the diet of the 
poorer classes largely includes the fungi which they 
gather ; but when so treated the several Mushrooms 
lose much of their soluble nutritive qualities as well as 
their flavour. For the most part. Agarics with salmon- 
coloured spores are injurious, likewise fungi having a 
rancid or fetid odour, and an acrid, pungent, peppery 
taste. Celsus said : " If anyone shall have eaten 


noxious fungi, let him take radishes with vinegar and 
water, or with salt and vinegar." 

Wholesome Mushrooms afford nourishment which is 
a capital substitute for butchers' meat, and almost 
equally sustaining. If a poisonous fungus has been 
eaten, its ill-elfects may nowadays be promptly met by 
antidotes injected beneath the skin, and by taking small 
doses of strychnia in coffee. 

Gerard says: "I give my advice to those that love 
such strange and new fangled meats to beware of licking 
honey among thorns, lest the sweetness of the one do 
not countervail the sharpness and pricking of the other." 
With regard to Mushrooms generally, Horace said : — 

" Pratensibus optima fungis 
Natura est; aliis male creditur." 

" The meadow Mushrooms are in kind the best ; 
'Tis ill to trust in any of the rest." 

The St. George's Mushroom, an early one, takes, 
perhaps, the highest place as an agaric foi' the table. 
Blewits (formerly sold in Covent Garden market foi- 
Catsup), and Blue Caps, each an autumnal species, are 
savoury fungi to be fried. They may be served with 
bacon on toast. 

A very old test as to the safety of Mushrooms is to 
stew with them in the saucepan a small carefully-peeled 
onion. If after boiling for a few minutes this comes out 
white, and clean-looking, the Mushrooms may all be 
confidently eaten : but if it has turned blue, or black, 
there are dangerous ones among them, and all should 
be rejected. 

The Puff Ball {Lycoperdon giganteum bovista) grows 
usually on the borders of fields, in orchards, or meadows, 
also on dry downs, and occasionally in gardens. It 


should be collected as a Simple in August and September. 
This PufF Ball is smooth, globose, and yellowish-white 
when young, becoming afterwards brown. It contains, 
when ripe, a large quantity of extremely fine brown 
black powder, which is a capital application for stopping 
bleeding from slight wounds and cuts. This also makes 
a good drying powder for dusting on weeping eruptive 
sores between parts which approximate to one another, 
as the fingers, toes, and armpits. The powder is very 
inflammable, and when propelled in a hollow cone against 
lighted spirit of wine on tow at the other end by a 
sudden jerk, its flash serves to imitate lightning for 
stage purposes. It was formerly used as tinder for 
lighting fires with the flint and steel. 

When the fungus is burnt, its fumes exercise a narcotic 
property, and will stupify bees, so that their honey may 
be removed. It has been suggested that these fumes 
may take the place of chloroform for minor surgical 
operations. The gas given off during combustion is 
carbonic oxide. 

PufF Balls vary in size from that of a moderately 
large turnip to the bigness of a man's head. Their form 
is oval, depressed a little at the top, and the colour is a 
pure white both without and within. The surface is 
smooth at first, but at length cracking, and as the fungus 
ripens it becomes discoloured and dry ; then the 
interior is resolved into a yellow mass of delicate 
threads, mixed with a powder of minute spores, about 
the month of September. 

When young and pulpy the PufF Ball is excellent to 
be eaten, and is especially esteemed in Italy; but it 
deteriorates very rapidly after being gathered, and should 
not be used at table if it has become stained with yellow 
marks. When purely white it may be cut into thick 



slices of a quarter-of-an-inch, and fried in fresh butter, 
with pepper, salt, and pounded herbs, and each slice 
should be first dipped in the yolk of an egg; the PulF Ball 
will also make an excellent omelette. Small PufF Balls 
are common on lawns, heaths, and pastures. These are 
harmless, and eatable as long as their flesh remains quite 
white. The Society of Amateur Botanists, 1863, had 
its origin (as described by the president, Mr. M. C. 
Cooke), " over a cup of tea and fried Puff Balls," in 
Great Turnstile. 

Pieces of its dried inner woolly substance, with a 
profusion of minute snufF-coloured spores, have been long 
kept by the wise old women of villages for use to staunch 
wounds and incisions ; whilst a ready surgical appliance 
to a deep cut is to bind a piece of Puff Ball over it, and 
leave it until healing has taken place. In Norfolk large 
Puff Balls found at the margins of cornfields are known 
as Bulfers, or Bulfists, and are regarded with aversion. 

In medicine a trituration (H.) is made of this fungus, 
and its spores, rubbed up with inert sugar of milk 
powdered, and it proves an effective remedy against dull, 
stupid, sleepy headache, with passive itchy pimples about 
the skin. From five to ten grains of the trituration, 
diluted to the third decimal strength, should be given 
twice a da}^, with a little water, for two or three weeks. 

Sir B. Richardson found that even by smelling at a 
strong tincture of the fungus great heaviness of the head 
was produced ; and he has successfully employed the 
same tincture for relieving an analogous condition when 
coming on of its own accord. But the Puff Ball, 
whether in tincture (H.) or in trituration, is chiefly of 
service for curing the itchy pimply skin of " tettery " 
subjects, especially if this is aggravated by washing. 
Likewise the remedy is of essential use in some forms 


of eczema, especially in what is known as bakers', or 
grocers' itch. Five drops of the diluted tincture may be 
given with a spoonful of water three times in the day ; and 
the affected parts should be sponged equally often with 
a lotion made of one part of the stronger tincture to four 
parts of water, or thin strained gruel. Sometimes when 
a full meal of the Puff Ball fried in butter, or stewed in 
milk, has been taken, undoubted evidences of its narcotic 
effects have shown themselves. 

Gerard said : "In divers parts of England, where 
people dwell far from neighbours, they carry the Puff 
Balls kindled with fire, which lasteth long." In Latin 
they were named Lnpi crepitiini, or Wolfs' Fists. "The 
powder of them is fitly applied to merigals, kibed heels, 
and such like ; the dust or powder thereof is very 
dangerous for the eyes, for it hath been observed that 
divers have been poreblind even after when some small 
quantity thereof hath been blown into their eyes." 
This fungus has been called Molly Puff, from its 
resemblance to a powder puff ; also Devil's Snuff Box, 
Fuss Balls, and Puck Fists (from feist, crepitns ani, and 
Fuck, the impish king of the fairies). In Scotland the 
Puff Ball is the blind man's e'en, because it has been 
believed that its dust will cause blindness ; and in Wales 
it is the " bag of smoke." 

. The Fly Agaric, or Bug Agaric (Agaricus muscarius) 
gives the name of Mushroom to all the tribe of Fungi 
as used for the destruction of flies (momches). Albertus 
Magnus describes it as Vocat us fungus muscarum eo quidem 
lade jjulverisatus interficit muscas : and this seems to be 
the real source of the word, which has by caprice 
become transmitted from a poisonous sort to the 
wholesome kinds exclusively. The pileus of the Fly 
Agaric is broad, convex, and of a rich orange scarlet 



colour, with a striate margin and white gills. It gets 
its name, as also that of Flybane, from being used in 
milk to kill flies ; and it is called Bug Agaric from 
having been formerly employed to smear over bedsteads 
so as to destroy bugs. It inhabits dry places, especially 
birchwoods, and pinewoods, having a bright red upper 
surface studded with brown warts ; and when taken as 
a poisonous agent it causes intoxication, delirium, and 
death through narcotism. It is more common in Scotland 
than in England. This Mushroom is highly poisonous, and 
therefore the remedial preparations are only to be given 
in a diluted form. For medicinal purposes a tincture is 
made (H.) from the fresh fungus : and a trituration of 
the dried fungus powdered and mixed with inert sugar 
of milk also powdered. These preparations are kept 
specially by the homoeopathic chemists : and the use of 
the Fly Agaric has been adopted by the school which 
they represent for curatively treating an irritable 
spinal cord, with soreness, twitching of the limbs, 
dragging of the legs, unsteadiness of the head, neuralgic 
pains in the arms and legs (as if caused by sharp ice), 
some giddiness, a coating of yellow fur on the lining 
mucous membranes, together with a crawling, or 
burning, and eruptive skin. In fact for a lamentably 
depraved condition of all the bodily health, such as 
characterises advanced locomotor ataxy, and allied spinal 
degradations leading to general physical failure. Just 
such a totality of symptoms has been recorded by 
provers after taking the fungus for some length of time 
in toxical quantities. The tincture should be used of 
the third decimal strength, five drops for a dose twice 
or three times a day with a spoonful of water ; or the 
trituration of the third decimal strength, for each dose 
as much of the powder as will lie on the flat surface of 



a sixpence. Chilblains may be mitigated by taking the 
tincture of this Agaric, and by applying some of the 
stronger tincture on cotton wool over the swollen and 
itching parts at night. 

"Muscarin" is the leading active principle of the Fly 
A.garic,in conjunction with agaricin,mycose,andmannite; 
It stimulates, when swallowed in strong doses, certain 
nerves which tend to retard the action of the heart. 
Both our Fly Agaric and the White Agaric of the 
United States serve to relieve the night sweats of 
advanced pulmonary consumption, and they have sev- 
erally proved of supreme palliative use against the 
cough, the sleeplessness, and the other worst symptoms 
of this wasting disease, as also for drying up the milk 
in weaning. Each of these fungi when taken l)y 
mistake will salivate profusely, and provoke both 
immoderate, and untimely laughter. When the action 
of the heart is laboured and feeble throiigh lack of 
nervous power, muscarin, or the tincture of Fly Agaric, 
in a much diluted potency will relieve this trouble. 
The dose of Muscarin, or Agaricin, is from a sixth to 
half a grain in a pill. These medicines increase the 
secretion of tears, saliva, bile, and sweating, l)ut they 
materially lessen the quantity of urine. Belladonna is 
found to be the best antidote. From the Oak Agaric, 
"touchwood," or " spunk," — when cut into thin slices and 
beaten with a hammer until soft, — is made "Amadou," or 
German tinder. This is then soaked in a solution of 
nitre and dried ; it afterwards forms an excellent elastic 
astringent application for staying bleedings and for bed 
sores. The Larch Agaric is powdered, and given in 
Germany as a purgative, its dose being from twenty to 
sixty grains. 

In Belgium the Polyporus Officinalis is used medicinally 



as an aperient, and to check profuse sweating. By the 
Malays the Folyporus Sanguineus is used outwardly 
for leprosy. 

Truffles (Tuber ciharium) may receive a passing notice 
whilst treating of fungi, though they are really sub- 
terranean tubers of an edible sort found in the earth, 
especially beneath beech trees, and uprooted by dogs 
trained for the pur})ose. They somewhat resemble our 
English "earth nuts," which swine discover by their 
scent. The ancients called the Truffle lycoperdon, because 
supposing it to spring from the dung of wolves. In 
Athens the children of Cherips had the rights of 
citizenship granted them because their father had in- 
vented a choice ragout concocted of Truffles. But 
delicate and weak stomachs find them difficult to digest. 
Pliny said, "Those kinds which remain hard after 
cooking are injurious ; whilst others, naturally harmful 
if they admit of being cooked thoroughly well, and if 
eaten with saltpetre, or, still better, dressed with meat, 
or with pear stalks, are safe and innocent. 

In Italy these tubers are fried in oil and dusted with 
pepper. For epicures they are mixed with the liver of 
fattened geese in pate de foie gras. Also, greedy swine 
are taught to discover and root them out, " being of 
a chestnut colour and heavy rank hercline smell, and 
found not seldom in England." Black Truffles are 
chiefly used : but there are also red and white varieties, 
the best tubers being light of weight in proportion to 
their size, with an agreeable odour, and elastic to 
the touch. 

They are stimulating and heating, insomuch, that for 
delicate children who are atrophied, and require a 
muUum in j^arco of fatty and nitrogenous food in a 
compact but light form, which is fairly easy of digestion, 


the }Mte de foie gras on bread is a capital prescription. 
Truffles grow in clusters several inches below the soil, 
being found commonly on the downs of Wiltshire, 
Hampshire and Kent ; also in oak and chestnut forests. 
Dogs have been trained to discriminate their scent 
below the surface of the soil, and to assist in digging 
them out. There is a Garlic Truffle of a small inferior 
sort which is put into stews ; and the best Truffles are 
frequently found full of pei'forations. The presence of 
the tubers beneath the ground is denoted by the 
appearance above of a beautiful little fly having a violet 
colour — this insect being never seen except in the 
neighbourhood of Truffles. They are subject to the 
depredations of certain animalcules, which excavate the 
tubers so that they soon become riddled with worms. 
These, after passing through a chrysalis state, develop 
into the violet flies. Gerard called Truffles " Sj^anish 
fussebals." They were not known to English epicures 
in Queen Elizabeth's day. Another appellation borne 
by them formerly was " Swines' bread," and they were 
supposed to be engendered by thunderbolts. In 
Northern France they were first popularised four 
hundred and lifty years ago, by John, Duke of Berry, 
a reprobate gambler, third son of John the Good. The 
Perigord Truffle has a dark skin, and smells of violets. 
Piedmontese truffles suggest garlic : those of Burgundy 
are a little resinous : the Neapolitan specimens are 
redolent of sulphur : and in the Gard Department 
(France) they have an odour of musk. The English 
truffle is white, and best used in salads. Dr. Warton, 
Poet Laureate, 1750, said "Happy the grotto'ed hermit 
with his pulse, who wants no truffles." A Girtcn girl 
under examination described the tuber as a "sort of 
sea-anemone on land." When once dug up truffles soon 



lose their perfume and aroma, so they are imported 
bedded in the very earth which produced them. 

The Earth Nut {Biuiinm flexaosum) is also called Hog 
Nut, Pig Nut, Jur Nut, St. Anthony's Nut, Earth 
Chesnut, and Kipper Nut. Caliban says, in the Tempest, 
" I with my long nails will dig thee Pig Nuts." They 
are an excellent diuretic, serving to stimulate the kidneys. 

Pliny talked of fungi in general as a great delicacy to 
be eaten with amber knives and a service of silver. But 
Seneca called them voluptuaria venena. The Russians 
take some wh:ch we think to be deleterious ; but they 
first soak these in vinegar, which (adds Pliny), " being 
contrary to them neutralizes their daiigerous qualities ; 
also they are rendered still more safe if cooked with 
pear stalks ; indeed it is good to cat pears immediately 
after all fungi." Almost every species except the 
common Mushroom is characterized by the majority of 
our countrymen as a toadstool ; but this title really 
appertains to the large group bearing the subgeneric 
name of Tricholoma, which probably does not contain a 
single unwholesome species. Other rustic names given 
to this group are " Puckstools " and "Puckfists.'' 
They are further known as " Toad skeps " (toad's cap) 
in the Eastern counties. 

Puck, the mischievous king of the fairies, has been 
commonly identified with jjogge, the toad, which was 
believed to sit upon most of the unwholesome fungi ; 
and the Champignon (or Paddock Stool) was said to owe 
its growth to " those wanton elves whose pastime is to 
make midnight mushrooms." One of the " toad stools " 
(the Clathrus cancellatus) is said to produce cancerous 
sores if handled too freely. It has an abominably 
disgusting odour, and is therefore named the " lattice 
stinkhorn." The toad was popularly thought to imper- 



senate the devil ; and the toad-stool, pixie stool, or 
paddock stool was believed to sjoring from the devil's 

The word Mushroom may have been derived from the 
French Mouchavn, or Mousseron, because of its growing 
among moss. The chief chemical constituents of whole- 
some Mushrooms are albuminoids, carbo-hydrates, at, 
mineral matters, and water. When salted they yield 
what is known as catsup, or ketchup (from the Japanese 
kitdiap). The second most edible fungus of this nature 
is the Parasol Mushroom {Lepcota procem). 

Edible Mushrooms, if kept uncooked, become dan- 
gerous : they cannot be sent to table too soon. In 
Eome our favourite Fratiola is held in very small 
esteem, and the worst wish an Italian can express 
against his foe is " that he may die of a Pmtiola." If 
this species were exposed for sale in the Roman markets 
it would be certainly condemned by the inspector of 

Fairy rings are produced by the spawn, or mijceliuiu, 
beginning to germinate where dropped by a bird or 
a beast, and exhausting the soil of carbon, nitrogen, 
phosphorus and potash, from the centre continuously 
outwards ; whilst imaieJiately within the enlarging ring 
there is constantly a band of coarse rank grass fed by 
the manure of the penultimate dead spawn. The 
innermost starved ground remains poor and barren. In 
this duplicate way the rings grow larger and larger. 

Our edible Mushroom is a Pratella of the subgenus 
Fsalliota, and the Agaricus cainpestris of Etiglish botanists. 
In common with the esculent Mushrooms of France it 
contains phosphate of potassium — a cell salt essentially 
reparative of exhausted nerve tissue and energy. 

The old practice of testing Mushrooms with a silver 



spoon, which is supposed to become tarnished only 
when the juices are of an injurious quality {i.e., when 
sulphur is developed therein under decomposition) is 
not to be trusted. In cases of poisoning by injurious 
fungi after the most violent symptoms may have been 
relieved, and the patient rescued from immediate danger, 
yet great emaciation will often follow from the subse- 
quent effects of the poison : and the skin may exhibit 
an abundant outbreak of a vesicular eruption, whilst 
the health will remain perhaps permanently injured. 
Strong alcoholic drinks should never be taken together 
with, or immediately after eating Mushrooms, or other 
innocent fungi. Experienced fungus eaters (mycopha- 
gists) have found themselves suffering from severe pains, 
and some swellings through taking whiskey and water 
shortly after the meal : whereas precisely the same 
fungus, minus the whiskey, could be eaten with impunity 
by these identical experimentalists. 


The wild Mustard (Brassica Sinapistrum), a Crucifei^ous 
herb commonly called Chedlock, from leac, a weed, and 
kiede, to annoy, grows abundantly as a product of waste 
places, and in newly disturbed ground. 

The Field Mustard {Arvensis) is Charlock, or Brassock ; 
its botanical term, Sinapis, being referable to the Celtic 
na2), as a general name for plants of the rape kind. 
Mustard was formerly known as " senvie " in English. 
It has been long cultivated and improved, especially in 
D irham. 

Now we have for commercial and officinal purposes 
two varieties of the cultivated plant, the black Mustard 
(Sinapis nigra), and the white Mustard (Brassica, or 
Siiiapis alha). There is also a plain plant of the hedges, 


Hedge Mustard (Sm/mbrmin officinale) which is a mere 
rustic Simple. 

It is the black Mustard which yields by its seeds the 
condiment of our tables, and the pungent yellow flour 
which we employ for the familiar stimulating poultice, 
or sinapism. This black Mustard is a tall smooth plant, 
having entire leaves, and smooth seed pods, being now 
grown for the market on rich alluvial soil chiefly in 
Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. In common with its 
kindred plants it gets its name from mustum, the 
"must," or newly fermented grape juice, and ardens, 
burning, because as a condiment. Mustard flour was 
formerly mixed with home-made wine and sugar. The 
virtues of black Mustard depend on the acrid volatile 
oil contained in its seeds. These when unbruised and 
macerated in boiling water yield only a tasteless muci- 
lage which resides in their skin. But when bruised 
they develop a very active, pungent, and highly stimu- 
lative principle with a powerful penetrating odour which 
makes the eyes water. From thence is perhaps derived 
the generic name of the herb Sinapis {Para ton sinesthai 
tons hopous, " because it irritates the eyes "). This active 
principle contains sulphur abundantly, as is proved by 
the discoloration of a silver spoon when left in the 
mustard-pot, the black sulphuret of silver being formed. 
The chemical basis of black Mustard is " sinnigrin " and 
its acid myronic. The acridity of its oil is modified in 
the seeds by combination with another fixed oil of a 
bland nature which can be readilj^ separated by pressure, 
then the cake left after the expression of this fixed oil 
is far more pungent than the seeds. The bland oil 
expressed from the hulls of the black seeds after the 
flour has been sifted away, promotes the growth of the 
hair, and may be used with benefit externally for 


rheumatism. Whitehead's noted Essence of Mustard is 
made with spirits of turpentine and rosemary, with 
which camphor and the farina of black Mustard seed 
are mixed. This oil is very little affected by frost or the 
atmosphere ; and it is therefore specially prized by 
clock makers, and for instruments of precision. 

A Mustard poultice from the farina of black Mustard 
made into a paste with, or without wheaten flour com- 
mingled, constitutes one of the most powerful external 
stimulating applications we can employ. It quickly 
induces a sharp burning pain, and it excites a destruc- 
tive outward inflammation which enters much more into 
the true skin than that which is caused by an old 
fashioned blister of Spanish fly. This has therefore 
superseded the latter as more promptly and reliably 
effective for the speedy relief of all active internal 
congestions. If the application of Mustard has caused 
sores, these may be best soothed and healed by lime- 
water liniment. 

Mustard flour is an infallible antiseptic and sterilising 
agent. It is a capital deodoriser ; and if rubbed 
thoroughly into the hands and nails will take away all 
offensive stink when corrupt or dead tissues have been 

If a tablespoonful of Mustard flour is added to a pint 
of tepid water, and taken at a draught it operates 
briskly as a stimulating and sure emetic. Hot water 
poured on bruised seeds of black Mustard makes a good 
stimulating footbath for helping to throw off a cold, or 
to dispel a headache ; and meantime the volatile oil 
given out as an aroma, if not too strong, proves soporific. 
This oil contains erucic, and sinapoleic acids. When 
properly mixed with spirit of wine, twenty-four drops 
of the oil to an ounce of spirit, the essential oil forma, 


b}^ reason of its stimulating properties and its contained 
sulphur, a capital liniment for use in rheumatism, or for 
determining blood to the surface from deeper parts. 
Caution should be used not to apply a plaster made 
altogether of Mustard flour to the delicate skin of young 
children, or females, because ulcers difficult to heal may 
be the result, or even gangrenous destruction of the 
deeper skin may follow. The effects of a Mustard bath, 
at about ninety degrees, are singular ; decided chills are 
felt at first throughout the whole body, with some 
twitchings at times of the limbs ; and later on, even 
after the skin surface has become generally red, this 
sense of coldness persists, until the person leaves the 
water, when reaction becomes quickly established, with 
a glowing heat and redness of the whole skin. 

For obstinate hiccough a teacupful of boiling water 
should be poured on a teaspoonful of Mustard flour, and 
taken when sufficiently cool, half at first, and the other 
half in ten minutes if still needed. For congestive 
headache a small roll of Mustard paper or Mustard leaf 
may be introduced into one or both nostrils, and left 
there for a minute or more. It will relieve the headache 
promptly, and may perhaps induce some nose bleeding. 

Admixture with vinegar checks the development of 
the pungent principles of Mustard. This used to be 
practised for the table in England, but is now discon- 
tinued, though some housewives add a little salt to their 
made Mustard. 

Claims for the introduction of Mustard at Durham in 
1720, have been raised in favour of a Mrs. Clements, but 
they cannot be substantiated. Shakespeare in the 
Taming of the Shreiv makes Grumio ask Katherine 
" What say you to a piece of beef and Mustard ? " 
and speaks, in Henri; IV., of Poins' wit being " as thick 



as Tewkesbury Mustard " ; whilst Fuller in his JForthies 
of England, written only a very few j^ears after 
Shakespeare's death, says "the best Mustard in England 
is made at Tewkesbury in the county of Gloucester." 
Coles observes (1657), " in Gloucestershire about 
Teuxbury they grind Mustard seed and make it up 
into balls, which are brought to London and other remote 
places as being the best that the world affords." George 
the First restored the popularity of Mustard by his 
approval of it. Prior to 1720 no such condiment as 
Mustard in its present form was used at table in this 
country. It is not improbable that the Romans, who were 
great eaters of Mustard-seed pounded and steeped in new 
wine, brought the condiment with them to our shores, 
and taught the ancient Britons how to prepare it. At 
Dijon in France where the best mixed continental 
Mustard is made, the condiment is seasoned with various 
spices and savouries, such as Anchovies, Capers, Tarragon, 
Catsup of Walinits, or Mushrooms, and the liquors of 
other pickles. Philip the Bold granted armorial ensigns 
(1382) to Dijon, with the motto moult me tarde (I wish 
for ardently). The merchants of Sinapi copied this on 
their w^ares, the middle word of the motto being acci- 
dentally effaced. A well-known couplet of lines 
supposed to occur in Hudibras (but not to be found 
there), has long baffled the research of quotation hunters : 

" Sympathy without relief 
Is like to Mustard without beef." 

Mustard flour moistened with a little water into a 
paste has the singular property of dispelling the odours 
of musk, camphor, and the fetid gum resins. For 
deodorising vessels which have contained the essences of 
turpentine, creasote, assafetida, or other such drugs, it 


will answer to introduce some bruised Mustard seed, 
and then a little water, shaking the vessel well for a 
minute or more, and afterwards rinsing it out with 
plenty of water. 

The white Mustard grows when uncultivated on waste 
ground with large yellow flowers, and does not yield 
under an}^ circumstances a pungent oil like the black 
Mustard. It is a hirsute plant, with stalked leaves and 
hairy seed pods ; and when produced in our gardens its 
young leaves are eaten as a salad, or as " Mustard, with 

" When in the leaf," says John Evelyn in his Acetaria, 
" Mustard, especially in young seedling plants, is of 
incomparable effect to quicken and revive the spirits, 
strengthening the memory, expelling heaviness, pre- 
venting the vertiginous palsy, and a laudable cephalic, 
besides being an approved antiscorbutic." He tells 
further that the Italians, in making Mustard as a condi- 
ment, mingle lemon and orange peel with the (black) 
seeds. "In the composition of a sallet the Mustard 
(a noble ingredient) should be of the best Tewkesbury 
or else of the soundest and weightiest Yorkshire seed, 
tempered a little by the fire to the consistence of a pap 
with vinegar, in which some shavings of the horse radish 
have been steeped. Then, cutting an onion, and putting 
it into a small earthen gally-pot, pour the Mustard over 
it and close it very well with a cork. Note. — The seeds 
should have been pounded in a mortar, or bruised with 
a polished cannon bullet in a large wooden bowl dish." 

The active principle of white Mustard is " Sinapin," 
and the seed germinates so rapidly that it has been said 
a salad of this may be grown while the joint of meat is 
being roasted for dinner. Seeds of the white Mustard 
have been employed medicinally from early times. 


Hippocrates advised their use both internally, and as a 
counter-irritating poultice made with vinegar. When 
swallowed whole in tea.spoonful doses three or four times 
a day, they exercise a laxative effect mechanically, and are 
voided without undergoing any perceptible change, only 
the outer skin being a little softened and mucilaginous. 
An infusion of the seed taken medicinally will relieve 
chronic bronchitis, and confirmed rheumatism : also for 
a relaxed sore throat a gargle of Mustard seed tea will 
be found of service. 

A French expression for trifling one's time away is 
s'amuser a la mouiarde. The essential oil is an admirable 
deodorant and disinfectant, especially on an emergency. 

But the " grain of Mustard seed, the smallest of all 
seeds " (Mark iv., 31), " which when it is grown up is 
the greatest among herbs," was a tree of the East, very 
different from our Mustard, and bearing branches of 
real wood. 

The Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium, or Erisijmum) grows 
by our roadsides, and on waste grounds, where it seems 
to possess a peculiar aptitude for collecting and 
retaining dust. The pods are downy, close pressed to 
the stem, and the leaves hairy with their points turned 
backwards. It is named by the French " St. Barbara's 
Hedge Mustard," and the Singer's Plant, '^Jierbe au 
chantre,'' or " herbe au chanteur." Up to the time of 
Louis XIV. it was considered an infallible remedy for 
loss of the voice. Kacine writing to Boileau recom- 
mended the syrup of Erysimum to him when visiting the 
waters of Bourbonne in order to be cured of voicelessness. 

Si les eaux de Bourbonne ne vous guerissent pas de 
votre extinction de voix, le sirop d'Erysimum vous 
guerirait infalliblement. Ne I'oubliez pas, et a 
I'occasion vingt grammes par litre d'eau en tisane 


matiti et soir."' It used to be called Flix, or Flux weed 
from being given with benefit in dysentery, a disease 
formerly known as the Flix. This herb has been 
commended for chronic coughs and hoarseness, using 
the juice mixed with an equal quantity of honey, or 
sugar. It has been designated " the most excellent of 
all remedies for diseases of the throat, especially in 
ulcerated sore throats, which it will serve to cure when 
all the advice of physicians and surgeons has proved 
ineffectual." A strong infusion of the herb is excellent 
in asthmas, and it may be made with sugar into a 
syrup which will keep all the year round. The Hedge 
Mustard contains chemically a soft resin, and a sul- 
phuretted volatile oil. This herb with the vervain is sup- 
posed to form Count Mattaei's noted nostrum Febrifugo. 


No plant is more commonplace and plentiful in our 
fields and hedges throughout an English summer than 
the familiar stinging Nettle. And yet most persons 
unknowingly include under this single appellation 
several distinct herbs. Actually as Nettles are to be 
found : the annual Urtica dioica, or true Stinging Nettle ; 
the perennial Urtica wens (burning) ; the White Dead 
Nettle ; the Archangel, or Yellow Weasel Snout, and 
the Purple Hedge Nettle. This title " Urtica " comes 
ah urendo, "from burning." 

The plant which stings has a round hairy stalk, and 
carries only a dull colourless bloom, whereas the others 
are labiate herbs with square stems, and conspicuous 
lipped flowers. As Simples only the great Stinging 
Nettle, the lesser Stinging Nettle, and the white Dead 
Nettle call for observation. Also another variety of our 
Stinging Nettle is the Urtica piMif era, called by corrup- 


tiori the Roman Nettle, really because found abundantly 
at Romney in Kent. But a legend obtains belief with 
some that Roman soldiers first brought with them to 
England the seeds of this plant, and sowed it about for 
their personal uses. They heard before coming that the 
climate here was so cold that it might not be endured 
without some friction to warm the blood, and to stir up 
the natural heat ; and they therefore bethought them to 
provide Nettles wherewith to chafe their limbs when 
"stiffe and much benummed." Or, again, Lyte says, 
" They do call al such strange herbes as be unknown of 
the common people Romish, or Romayne herbes, 
although the same be brought direct from Sweden or 
Norweigh." The cure for Nettle stings has been from 
early times to rub the part with a dock leaf. The dead 
Nettles are so named as having no sting, but possessing 
nettle-like leaves. The stinging effect of the true Nettle 
is caused b}^ . an acrid secretion contained in minute 
vesicles at the base of each of the stiff hairs ; and 
urtication, or flogging with Nettles, is an old external 
remedy, which was long practised for chronic rheu- 
matism, and loss of muscular power. Tada quod exurat 
digitos urtica teneutis. — Macer. Tea made from the young 
tops is a Devonshire cure for Nettle-rash. Gerard says, 
"the Nettle is a good medicine for them that cannot 
breathe unless they hold their necks upright : and being 
eaten boiled with periwinkles it makes the body 

The word Nettle is derived from net, meaning some- 
thing spun, or sewn; and it indicates the thread made 
from the hairs of the plant, and formerly used among 
Scandinavian nations. This was likewise employed by 
Scotch weavers in the seventeenth century. Westmacott, 
the historian, says, " Scotch cloth is only the house- 


wifery of the Nettle." And the poet Campbell writes 
in one of his letters, " I have slept in Nettle sheets, and 
dined off a Nettle table cloth : and I have heard my 
mother say she thought Nettle cloth more durable than 
any other linen." Goldsmith has recorded the " rubbing 
of a cock's heart with stinging Nettles to make it hatch 
hen's eggs." Some think the word " Nettle ' an altera- 
tion of the Anglo-Saxon " Needl," with reference to the 
needle-like stings. Spun silk is now made in England 
from "Kamie " the decorticated fibre of Nettles after 
washing away the glutinous juice from under their bark. 

The seeds (diaica) contain a fine oil, and powerfully 
stimulate the sexual functions. 

In Russia, as a recent mode of treatment, urtication is 
now enthtisiastically commended, that is, slapping, or 
pricking with a bundle of fresh Nettle tAvigs for one or 
more minutes, once, or several times in the day. It is 
a superlative method of cure because harmless (neither 
irritating the kidneys nor disfiguring the skin), cleanly, 
simple in application, rapid in its effects, and cheap, 
though perhaps somewhat rude. 

For sciatica, for incipient wasting, for the difficult 
breathing of some heart troubles (where such stimulation 
along the backbone affords more prompt and complete 
relief than any other treatment), for some coughs 
palsy, suppression of the monthly flow in women, 
rheumatism, and for lack of mtiscular energy, this 
urtication is said to be an invaluable resuscitating 
measure which has been successfully resorted to by the 
peasantry of Russia from time immemorial. It will 
sometimes produce a crop of small harmless blisters. 

The analysis of the fresh Nettle shows a presence 
of formic acid (the irritating principle of the stinging 
hairs), with mucilage, salts, ammonia, carbonic acid, and 



water. A strong decoction of Nettles drunk too freely 
by mistake has produced severe burning over the whole 
body, with general redness, and a sense of being stung. 
The features became swollen, and minute vesicles 
appeared on the skin, which burst, and discharged a 
limpid fluid. No fever accompanied the attack, and 
after five or six days the eruption dried up. A medi- 
cinal tincture (H.) is made from the entire plant with 
spirit of wine : and this, as taught by the principle of 
similars, may be confidently given in small diluted doses 
to mitigate such a totality of symptoms as now 
described, whether coming on as an attack of severe 
Nettle rash, or assuming some more pronounced eruptive 
aspect, such as chicken pox. The same tincture also 
acts admirably in cases of burns, when the deep skin is 
not destructively involved. And again for relieving the 
itching of the fundament caused by the presence of 

"Burns," says Lucomsky, "may be rapidly cured by 
applying over them linen cloths well wetted with an 
alcoholic tincture of the Stinging Nettle prepared from 
the fresh plant, this being diluted with an equal, or a 
double quantity of cold water. The cloths should be 
frequently re-wetted, but without removing them, so as 
to prevent pain from exposure." Dr. Burnett has shown 
conclusively that Nettle tea, and Nettle tincture (ten 
drops for a dose in water), are curative of fevei'ish gout, 
as well as of intermittent fever and ague. Either 
remedy will promote a speedy extrication of gravel 
through the kidneys. Again the Nettle was a favourite 
old English remedy for consumption, as already men- 
tioned (see Mugwort), with reference to the mermaid of 
the Clyde, when she beheld with regret the untimely 
funeral of a young Glasgow maiden. 




Fresh Nettle juice given in doses of from one to two 
tablespoonfuls is a most serviceable remedy for all sorts 
of bleeding, whether from the nose, the lungs, or some 
internal organ. Also the decoction of the leaves and 
stalks taken in moderate quantities is capital for many 
of the minor skin maladies. 

An alcoholic extract is made officinally from the entire 
young plant gathered in the spring, and some of this if 
applied on cotton wool will arrest bleeding from the 
nose, or after the extraction of a tooth, when persistent. 
If a leaf of the plant be put upon the tongue and pressed 
against the roof of the mouth, it will stop a bleeding 
from the nose. Taken as a fresh young vegetable in the 
spring, or early summer. Nettle tops make a very 
wholesome and succulent dish of greens, which is slightly 
laxative ; but during Autumn they are hurtful. In Italy 
Avhere herb soups are in high favour, " herb knodel " (or 
round balls made like a dumpling in size and consistency) 
of Nettles are esteemed as nourishing and medicinal. 
The greater Nettle ( Urtica dioica), and the lesser 
Nettle (Urtica urens) possess stinging properties in 

A crystalline alkaloid which is fatal to frogs in a dose 
of one centigramme, has been isolated from the common 
Stinging Nettle. The watery extract has but little 
effect on mammals : but in the frog it causes paralysis, 
beginning in the great nervous centres and finally 
stopping the action of the heart. If planted in the 
neighbourhood of beehives, the Nettle will serve to 
drive away frogs. 

The expressed seeds yield an oil which may be used 
for burning in lamps. Nettle leaves, rubbed into wooden 
vessels, such as tubs, &c., will prevent their leaking. 
The juice of the leaves coagulates, and fills up the inter- 



stices of the wood. When dried the leaves will often 
relieve asthma and similar bronchial troubles by inhal- 
ation, although other means have failed. Eight or ten 
grains should be burnt, and the fumes inspired at bed- 

The Lamium album (white dead Nettle), a labiate 
plant, though not of the stinging Nettle order, is like- 
wise of special use for arresting hsemorrhage, as in 
spitting of blood, dysentery, and female fluxes. Its 
name Lamium is got from the Greek laimos, the throat, 
because of the shape of its corollse. If the plant be 
macerated in alcohol for a week, then cotton wool 
dipped in the liquid is as efficacious for staying bleeding, 
when applied to the spot, as the strongly astringent 
muriate of iron. Also, a tincture of the flowers is made 
(H.) for internal use in similar cases. From five to ten 
drops of this tincture should be given for a dose with a 
tablespoonful of cold water. The Red Nettle, another 
Lamium, is also called Archangel, because it blossoms 
on St. Michael's day. May 8th. If made into a tea and 
sweetened with honey, it promotes perspiration, and 
acts on the kidneys. The white dead Nettle is a 
degenerate form of this purple herb as shown by still 
possessing on its petals the same brown markings. 
Nevertheless, having disobeyed the laws of its growth, 
it has lost its original colour, and, like the Lady of 
Shalott, it is fain to complain "the curse has come 
upon me." Count Mattsei's nostrum Fettorale is thought 
to be got from the Galeopsis (hemp Nettle), another of 
the labiate herbs, with Nettle-like leaves, but no 
stinging hairs, named from galee, a cat, or weazel, 
and opsis, a countenance, because supposed to have 
a blossom resembling the face of the animal speci- 



NIGHT SHADE, DEADLY {Belladonna). 
This is a Solanaceous plant found native in Great 
Britain, and growing generally on chalky soil under 
hedges,, or about waste grounds. It bears the botanical 
name of Atropa, being so called from one of the classic 
Fates^ — she who held the shears to cut the thread of 
human life : — 

" Clotho velum retinet, Lachesis net, et atropos occit." 

Its second title, Belladonna, was bestowed because 
the Spanish ladies made use of the plant to dilate 
the pupils of their brilliant black eyes. In this way 
their orbs appeared more attractively lustrous : and 
the donna became hella (beautiful). The plant is dis- 
tinguished by a large leaf growing beside a small one 
about its stems, whilst the solitary flowers, which droop, 
have a dark full purple border, being paler downwards, 
and without scent. The berries (in size like small 
cherries) are of a rich purplish black hue, and possess 
most dangerously narcotic properties. They are medici- 
nally useful, but so deadly that only the skilled hands 
of the apothecary should attempt to manipulate them ; 
and they should not be prescribed for a patient except 
by the competent physician. When taken by accident 
their mischievous effects may be prevented by swallow- 
ing as soon as possible a large glass of warm vinegar, 

A tincture of allied berries was used of old by ladies 
of fashion in the land of the Pharaohs, as discovered 
among the mummy graves by Professor Baeyer, of 
Munich. This had the property of imparting a verdant 
sheen to the human iris ; and, perhaps by the quaint 
colour-effect it produced on the transparent cornea of 
some wily Egyptian belle, it gave rise to the saying, 
" Do you see any green in the white of my eye ? " 



At one time Belladonna leaves were held to be curative 
of cancer when applied externally as a poultice, either 
fresh, or dried, and powdered. It is remarkable that 
sheep, rabbits, goats, and swine can eat these leaves with 
impunity, though (as Boerhaave tells) a single berry has 
been known to prove fatal to the human subject; and a 
gardener was once hanged for neglecting to remove 
plants of the deadly Night Shade from certain grounds 
which he knew. A peculiar symptom in those poisoned 
by Belladonna berries is the complete loss of voice, 
together with frequent bending forward of the trunk, 
and continual movements of the hands and finders. 
The Scotch under Macbeth sent bread and wine 
treacherously impregnated with this poison to the 
troops of Sweno. 

The plant bears other titles, as " Dwale " (death s 
herb), "Great Morel," and "Naughty Man's Cherry." 
The term " Morel " is applied to the plant as a diminu- 
tive of mora, a Moor, on account of the black-skinned 
berries. The Belladonna grows especially near the ruins 
of monasteries, and is so abundant around Furness 
Abbey that this locality has been styled the " Vale of 
Night Shade." 

Hahnemann taught that, acting on the law of similars, 
Belladonna given in very small doses of its tincture will 
protect from the infection of scarlet fever. He con- 
firmed this fact by experiments on one hundred and 
sixty children. When taken by provers in actual toxic 
doses the tincture, or the fresh juice, has induced sore 
throat, feverishness, and a dry, red, hot skin, just as if 
symptomatic of scarlet fever. The plant yields atropine 
and hyoscyamine from all its parts. As a drug it 
specially affects the brain and the bladder. The berries 
are known in Buckinghamshire as "Devil's cherries." 




The spice box is such a constant source of ready 
domestic comforts of a medicinal sort in every house- 
hold that the more important, and best known of its 
contents may well receive some consideration when 
treating of Herbal Simples; though it will, of course, 
be understood these spices are of foreign growth, and 
not indigenous products. 

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Cloves, claim par- 
ticular notice in this respect. 

" Sinament, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Cloves, 
And that gave me my jolly red nose." 

Beaumont and Fletcher. 

Cinnamon possesses positive medicinal as well as 
aromatic virtues. What we employ as this spice 
consists of the inner bark of shoots from the stocks of a 
Ceylon tree, first cultivated here in 1768. 

Such bark chemically contains cinnamic acid, tannin, 
a resin, and sugar, so that its continued use will induce 
constipation. The aromatic and stimulating effects of 
Cinnamon have been long known. It was freely given 
in England during the epidemic scourges of the early 
and middle centuries, nearly every monastery keeping 
a store of the cordial for ready use. The monks ad- 
ministered it in fever, dysentery, and contagious diseases. 
And recent discovery in the laboratory of M. Pasteur, 
the noted French bacteriologist, has shown that Cin- 
namon possesses the power of absolutely destroying all 
disease germs. Our ancestors, it would appear, had hit 
upon a valuable preservative against microbes, when 
they infused Cinnamon with other spices in their mulled 
drinks. Mr. Chamberland says, "no disease germ can 
long resist the antiseptic powder of essence of Cinnamon, 


which is as effective to destroy microbes as corrosive 

By its warming astringency, it exercises cordial 
properties which are most useful in arresting passive 
diarrhoea, and in relieving flatulent indigestion. 

Its volatile oil is procured from the bark, and likewise 
a tincture, as well as an aromatic water of Cinnamon. 
For a sick qualmish stomach either preparation is an 
excellent remedy, as the virtue of the bark rests in this 
essential volatile oil. When obtained from the fruit 
it is extremely fragrant, of thick consistence, and 
sometimes made into candles at Ceylon, for the sole use 
of the king. The doses are of the powdered bark from 
ten to twenty grains ; of the oil from one to five drops ; 
of the tincture from half to one teaspoonful, and of the 
distilled water from one to two tablespoonfuls. Our 
Queen is known to be partial to the use of Cinnamon. 
Keats, the poet, wrote of "lucent syrups tinct. with Cin- 
namon." And Saint Francis of Sales says in his Devout 
Life: "With respect to the labour of teaching, it 
refreshes and revives the heart by the sweetness it 
brings to those who are engaged in it, as the Cinnamon 
does in Arabia Felix to them who are laden with it." 
In toxic quantities of an injurious amount, Cinnamon 
bark has produced haemorrhage from the bowels, and 
nose bleeding. Therefore small doses of the diluted 
tincture are well calculated to obviate these symptoms 
when presenting themselves through illness. 

The bark was formerly thought to stimulate the 
functions of the womb, and of late it has come again 
into medical use for this purpose. To check fluxes from 
that organ, a teaspoonful of the bruised bark should be 
infused in half a pint of boiling water, and a table- 
spoonful given frequently when cool. Lozenges made 



with the essential oil are also medicinally available for 
the speedy relief of sickness, and as highly useful against 
influenza. It is well known that persons who live in 
Cinnamon districts have an immunity from malaria. 

Ginger (Zingiberis radix) is the root-stock of a plant 
grown in the East and West Indies, and is scraped 
before importation. Its odour is due to an essential oil, 
and its pungent hot taste to a resin. It was known in 
Queen Elizabeth's reign, having been introduced by the 
Dutch about 1566. " Grene Gynger of almondes " is 
mentioned in the Paston Letters, 1444. "When con- 
dited," says Gerard, " it provoketh veneric." 

This Green Ginger, Avhich consists of the young shoots 
of the rhizome, when boiled in syrup makes an excellent 
preserve. Officinally from the dried and scraped rhi- 
zome are prepared a tincture, and a syrup. If a piece 
of the root is chewed it causes a considerable flow of 
saliva, and an application of powdered Ginger, made 
with water into paste, against the skin will produce 
intense tingling and heat. To which end it may be 
spread on paper and applied to the forehead as a means 
for relieving a headache from passive fulness. In India, 
Europeans who suffer from languid indigestion drink an 
infusion of Ginger as a substitute for tea. For gouty 
dyspepsia the root may be powdered in a mortar : and 
.a heaped teaspoonful of it should be then infused in 
boiling milk ; to be taken Avhen sufficiently cool, for 
Tsupper or at breakfast. 

The dose of the powder is from ten to twenty grains ; 
of the tincture from a third of a teaspoonful to a tea- 
spoonful, in water hot or cold ; of the syrup from one 
to two teaspoonfuls in water. Either preparation is of 
service to correct diarrhoea, and to relieve weakly 
chronic bronchitis. Also, as admirably corrective of 


chronic constipation through general intestinal sluggish 
ness, a vespertine slice of good, old-fashioned Ginger- 
bread made with brown treacle and grated ginger may 
be eaten with zest, and reliance. There is a street in 
Hull called "The land of Ginger." 

The habitat of the tree from which our Nutmeg comes 
is the Molucca Islands, and the part of the nut which 
constitutes the Spice is the kernel. This is called 
generically A^ux moschata, or Mugget (French Musque) a 
diminutive of musk, from its aromatic odour, and 
properties. The Nutmeg is oval, or nearly round, of 
a brown wrinkled aspect, with an aromatic smell, and a 
bitter fragrant taste. Officinally the tree is named 
Myristica officinalis^ and the oil distilled from the Nutmeg 
in Britain is much superior to foreign oil. 

Ordinarily as a condiment of a warming character the 
Nutmeg is employed to correct cold indigestible food, or 
as a cordial addition to negus : and medicinally for 
languid digestion, with giddiness and flatulence, causing 
oppressed breathing. Its activity depends on the vola- 
tile oil, contained in the proportion of six per cent, in 
the nut. This when given at all largely is essentially 
narcotic. Four Nutmegs have been known to completely 
paralyse all nervous sensibility, and have produced a 
sort of wakeful unconsciousness for three entire days, 
with loss of memory afterwards, and with more or less 
paralysis until after eight days. 

The Banda, or Nutmeg Islands in the Indian Ocean, 
are twelve in number, and the strength of the Nutmeg 
in its season is said to overcome birds of Paradise so 
that they fall helplessly intoxicated. 

When taken to any excess, whether as a spice, or as 
a medicine, the Nutmeg and its preparations are apt to 
cause giddiness, oppression of the chest, stupor, and 



delirium. A moderate dose of the powdered Nutmeg 
is from five to twenty grains, but persons with a 
tendency to apoplexy should abstain from any free use 
of this spice. From two to six drops of the essential 
oil may be taken on sugar to relieve flatulent oppression 
and dyspepsia, or from half to one teaspoonful of the 
spirit of Nutmeg made by mixing one part of the oil 
with forty parts of spirit of wine ; this dose being had 
with one or two tablespoonfuls of hot water, sweetened 
if desired. 

A medicinal tincture is prepared (H.) from the kernel 
with spirit of wine (not using the oil, nor the essence). 
This in small diluted doses is highly useful for drowsi- 
ness connected with flatulent indigestion, and a dis- 
position to faintness : also for gout retrocedcnt to the 
stomach. The dose is from five to ten drops with a 
spoonful of water every half hour, or every hour until the 
symptoms are adequately relieved. Against diarrhoea 
Nutmeg grated into warm water is very helpful, and will 
prove an efficient substitute for opium in mild cases. 
Externally the spirit of Nutmeg is a capital appli- 
cation to be rubbed in for chronic rheumatism, and for 
paralysed limbs. The " butter of Nutmegs," or their 
concrete oil, is used in making plasters of a warming, 
and stimulating kind. A drink that was concocted by 
our grandmothers v^as Nutmeg tea. One Nutmeg 
would make a pint of this tea, two or three cupfuls of 
which would produce a sleep of many hours' duration. 
The worthy old ladies were wont to carry a silver grater 
and Nutmeg case suspended from the waist on their 
chatelaines. But in any large quantity the Nutmeg 
may produce sleep of such a profundity as to prove 
really dangerous. Two drachms of the powder have- 
brought on a comatose sleep with some delirium. 


The Nutmeg contains starch, protein, and other simple 
constituents, in addition to its stimulating principles. 
Mace is the aromatic envelope of the Nutmeg, and 
possesses the same qualities in a minor degree. Its 
infusion is a good warming medicine against chronic 
cough, and moist bronchial asthma in an old person. 
Mace is a membranaceous structure enveloping the 
Nutmeg, having a fleshy texture, and being of a light 
yellowish-brown colour. It supplies an allied essential 
volatile principle, which is fragrant and cordial. If 
given three or four times during the twenty-four hours, 
in a dose of from eight to twelve grains, crushed, or 
powdered Mace will prove serviceable against long- 
continued looseness of the bowels ; but this dose should 
not be exceeded for fear of inducing narcotism. 

Cloves (from davus, a nail), also found in the kitchen 
spice box, and owning certain medicinal resources of a 
cordial sort, which are quickly available, belong to the 
Myrtle family of plants, and are the unexpanded flower 
buds of an aromatic tree {Caryoijhyllus)^ cultivated at 
Penang and elsewhere. They contain a volatile oil 
which, like that of Chamomile, although cordial, lowers 
nervous sensibility, or irritability : also tannin, a gum 
resin, and woody fibre. This volatile oil consists princi- 
pally of "eugenin" with a camphor, "caryophyllin." The 
" eugenic acid," with a strong odour of cloves, is power- 
fully antiseptic and anti-putrescent. It reduces the 
sensibility of the skin : and therefore the oil with 
lanolin is a useful application for eczema. 

Dr Burnett has lately taught (1895) that a too free 
use of Cloves will bring on albuminuria ; and that when 
this disease has supervened from other causes, the dilute 
tincture of Cloves, third decimal strength, will fre- 
quently do much to lessen the quantity of albumen 



excreted by the kidneys. From five to ten drops of 
this tincture should be given with water three times a day. 

Used in small quantities as a spice the Clove stimu- 
lates digestion, but when taken more freely it deadens 
the susceptibility of the stomach, lessens the appetite, 
and induces constipation. An infusion of Cloves, made 
with half an ounce to a pint of water, and drank in 
doses of a small wineglassful, will relieve the nausea 
and coldness of flatulent indigestion. The oil put on 
cotton v/ool into the hollow of a decayed tooth is a 
useful means for giving ease to toothache. The dose of 
the oil is from one to five drops, on sugar, or in a 
spoonful of milk. The odour of Cloves is aromatic, and 
the taste pleasantly hot, but acrid. Half a tumbler of 
quite hot water poured over half a dozen Cloves (which 
are to brew for a few minutes on the hob, and then to 
be taken out), will often secure a good night to a restless 
dyspeptic patient, if taken just before getting into bed. 
Or if given cold before breakfast this dose Avill obviate 
constipation. In Holland the oil of Cloves is prescribed 
with cinchona bark for ague. Arthur Cecil's German 
medico in the Play advises his patient to "rub your 
pelly mit a Clove." 

All-Spice {Pimento) is another common occupant of the 
domestic spice box. It is popular as a warming cordial, 
of a sweet odour, and a grateful aromatic taste; but being 
a native of South America, grows with us only as a 
stove plant. The leaves and bark are full of inflammable 
particles, whilst walks between Pimento trees are odorous 
with a delicious scent. The name All-Spice is given 
because the berries afford in smell and taste a combi- 
nation of Cloves, Juniper berries, Cinnamon and Pepper. 
The special qualities of the Pimento reside in the rind of 
these berries ; and this tree is the Bromdia mmnas, 


named in Brazil Nana. An extract made from the 
crushed berries by boiling them down to a thick liquor, 
is, when spread on linen, a capital stimulating plaster 
for neuralgic or rheumatic parts. About the physician 
in "les Francais" it was said admiringly "c'est lurqui a 
invente la salade d' Ananas." The essential oil, as well 
as the spirit and the distilled water of Pimento, are 
useful against flatulent indigestion and for hysterical 
paroxysms. This Spice was formerly added to our syrup 
of buckthorn to prevent it from griping. The berries 
are put into curry powder, and added to mulled wines. 


The Oat is a native of Britain in its wild and unculti- 
vated form, and is distinguished by the spikelets of its 
ears hanging on slender pedicels. This is the Arena 
fatua, found in our cornfields, but not indigenous in 
Scotland. When cultivated it is named Avena sativa. 
As it needs less sunshine and solar warmth to ripen the 
grain than wheat, it furnishes the principal grain food of 
cold Northern Europe. With the addition of some fat 
this grain is capable of supporting life for an indefinite 
period. Physicians formerly recommended highly a diet- 
drink made from Oats, about which Hoffman wrote a 
treatise at the end of the seventeenth century ; and 
Johannis de St. Catherine, who introduced the drink, 
lived by its use to a hundred years free from any disease. 
Nevertheless the Oat did not enjoy a good reputation 
among the old Romans ; and Pliny said " Primum 
omnis frumenti vitium avena est." 

American doctors have taken of late to extol the Oat 
{Avena sativa) when made into a strong medicinal tinc- 
ture with spirit of wine, as a remarkable nervine stimu- 
lant and restorative : this being " especially valuable in 



all cases where there is a deficiency of nervous power, 
for instance, among over-worked lawyers, public speakers, 
and writers." 

The tincture is ordered to be given in a dose of from 
ten t(y twenty drops, once or twice during the day, in 
hot water to act speedily ; and a somewhat increased 
dose in cold water at bedtime so as to produce its 
beneficial effects more slowly then. It proves an 
admirable remedy for sleeplessness from nervous ex- 
haustion, and as prepared in New York may be 
procured from any good druggist in England. Oatmeal 
contains two per cent, of protein compounds, the largest 
portion of which is avenin. A yeast poultice made by 
stirring Oatmeal into the grounds of strong beer is a 
capital cleansing and healing application to languid 
sloughing sores. 

Oatmeal supplies very little saccharine matter ready 
formed. It cannot be made into light bread, and is 
therefore prepared when baked in cakes ; or, its more 
popular form for eating is that of porridge, where the 
ground meal becomes thoroughly soft by boiling, and is 
improved in taste by the addition of milk and salt. 
"The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food," said 
Burns, with fervid eloquence. Scotch people actually 
revel in their parritch and bannocks. " We defy your 
wheaten bread," says one of their favourite writers, "your 
home-made bread, your bakers' bread, your baps, rolls, 
scones, muffins, crumpets, and cookies, your bath buns, 
and your sally luns, your tea cakes, and slim cakes, your 
saffron cakes, and girdle cakes, your shortbread, and 
singing hinnies : we swear by the Oat cake, and the 
parritch, the bannock, and the brose." Scotch beef 
brose is made by boiling Oatmeal in meat liquor, and 
kail brose by cooking Oatmeal in cabbage-water. 



Crushed Oatmeal, from which the husk has been re- 
moved, is known as "groats," and is employed for making 
gruel. At the latter end of the seventeenth century this 
was a drink asked-for eagerly by the public at London 
taverns. '^Grantham gruel," says quaint old Fuller, in 
his History of the Worthies of England, " consists of nine 
grits and a gallon of water." When " thus made, it is 
wash rather, which one will have little heart to eat, and 
yet as little heart by eating." But the better gruel 
concocted elsewhere was "a wholesome spoon meat, 
though homely ; physic for the sick, and food for persons 
in health ; grits the form thereof : and giving the being 
thereunto." In the border forays of the tvvelfth and 
thirteenth centuries all the provision carried by the 
Scotch was simply a bag of Oatmeal. But as a food it 
is apt to undergo some fermentation in the stomach, and 
to provoke sour eructations. Furthermore, it is some- 
what laxative, because containing a certain proportion of 
bran which mechanically stimulates the intestinal mem- 
branes : and this insoluble bran is rather apt to accumu- 
late. Oatmeal gruel may be made by boiling from one to 
two ounces of the meal with three pints of water down 
to two pints, then straining the decoction, and pouring 
off the supernatant liquid when cool. Its flavour may 
be improved by adding raisins towards the end of 
boiling, or by means of sugar and nutmeg. Because 
animals of speed use up, by the lungs, much heat-forming 
material, Oats (which abound in carbonaceous constitu- 
ents) are specially suitable as food for the horse. 

ONION [see Garlic, i^ge 209). 


Though not of native British growth, except by way of 
a luxury in the gardens of the wealthy, yet the Orange 


is of such common use amongst all classes of our people 
as a dietetic fruit, when of the sweet China sort, and 
for tonic medicinal purposes when of the bitter Seville 
kind, that some consideration may be fairly accorded to 
it as a Curative Simple in these pages. 

The Citnis auraniiuin, or popular Orange, came 
originally from India, and got its distinctive title of 
Aurantiim, either {ab aureo colore corticis) from the golden 
colour of its peel, or (ah oppido Achceice Arantium) from 
Arantium, a town of Achaia. It now comes to us chiefly 
from Portugal and Spain. This fruit is essentially a 
product of cultivation extending over many years. It 
began in Hindustan as a small bitter berry Avith seeds ; 
then about the eighth century it was imported into 
Persia, though held somewhat accursed. During the 
tenth century it bore the name " Bigarade," and became 
better known. But not until the sixteenth century was 
it freely grown by the Spaniards, and brought into 
Mexico. Even at that time the legend still prevailed 
that whoever partook of the luscious juice was compelled 
to embrace the faith of the prophet. Spenser and Milton 
tell of the orange as the veritable golden apple presented 
by Jupiter to Juno on the day of their nuptials : and 
hence perhaps arose its more modern association with 
marriage rites. 

Of the varieties the China Orange is the most juicy, 
being now grown in the South of Europe ; whilst the 
St. Michael Orange (a descendant of the China sort, 
first produced in Syria), is now got abundantly from the 
Azores, whence it derives its name. 

John Evelyn says the first China Orange which 
appeared in Europe, was sent as a present to the old 
Conde Mellor, then Prime Minister to the King of 
Portugal, when only one plant escaped sound and useful 




of the whole case which reached Lisbon, and this 
became the parent of all the Orange trees cultivated 
by our gardeners, though not without greatly degener- 

The Seville Orange is that which contains the medici- 
nal properties, more especially in its leaves, flowers, and 
fruit, though the China sort possesses the same virtues 
in a minor degree. The leaves and the flowers have 
been esteemed as beneficial against epilepsy, and other 
convulsive disorders ; and a tea is infused from the 
former for hysterical sufferers. 

Two delicious perfumes are distilled from the flowers — 
oil of neroli, and napha water, — of which the chemical 
hydro-carbon "hesperidin," is mainly the active principle. 
This is secreted also as an aromatic attribute of the 
leaves through their minute glands, causing them to 
emit a fragrant odour when bruised. A scented water 
is largely prepared in France from the flowers, reau de 
fieur d'oram/er, which is frequently taken by ladies as 
a gentle sedative at night, when sufficiently diluted with 
sugared water. Thousands of gallons are drunk in this 
way every year. As a pleasant and safely effective help 
towards wooing sleep, from one to two teaspoonfuls 
of the French Eau de fleur d'oranger, if taken at bedtime 
in a teacupful of hot water, are to be highly commended 
for a nervous, or excitably wakeful person. 

Orange buds are picked green from the trees in the 
gardens of the Eiviera, and when dried they retain the 
sweet smell of the flowers. A teaspoonful of these buds 
is ordered to be infused in a teacupful of quite hot 
water, and the liquid to be drunk shortly before going 
to bed. The eft'ect is to induce a refreshing sleep, 
without any subsequent headache or nausea. The dried 
berries may be had from an English druggist. 




A peeled Orange contains some citric acid, with 
citrate of potash ; also albumen, cellulose, water, and 
about eight per cent, of sugar. The white lining pith 
of the peel possesses likewise the crystalline principle 
" hesperidin." Dr. Cullen showed that the acid juice of 
oranges, by uniting with the bile, diminishes the bitter- 
ness of that secretion ; and hence it is that this fruit is 
of particular service in illnesses which arise from a 
redundancy of bile, chiefiy in dark persons of a fibrous, 
or bilious temperament. But if the acids of the Orange 
are greater in quantity than can be properly corrected 
by the bile (as in persons with a small liver, and feeble 
digestive powers), they seem, by some prejudicial union 
with that liquid, to acquire a purgative qualit}^, and to 
provoke diarrhoea, with colicky pains. 

The rind or peel of the Seville Orange is darker in 
colour, and more bitter of taste than that of the sweet 
China fruit. It affords a considerable quantity of 
fragrant, aromatic oil, which partakes of the characters 
exercised by the leaves and the flowers as affecting the 
nervous system. Pereira records the death of a child 
which resulted from eating the rind of a sweet China 

The small green fruits (windfalls) from the Orange 
trees of each sort, which become blown off, or shaken 
down during the heats of the summer, are collected and 
dried, forming the " orange berries " of the shops. 
They are used for flavouring curacoa, and for making 
issue peas. These berries furnish a fragrant oil, the 
essence de petit grain, and contain citrates, and malates of 
lime and potash, with " hesperidin," sulphur, and mineral 
salts. The Orange flowers yield a volatile, odorous 
oil, acetic acid, and acetate of lime. The juice of the 
Orange consists of citric and malic acids, with sugar, 



citrate of lime, and water. The peel furnishes hesperidin, 
a volatile oil, gallic acid, and a bitter principle. 

By druggists, a confection of bitter orange peel is 
sold ; also a syrup of this orange peel, and a tincture 
of the same, made with spirit of wine, to be given in 
doses of from one to two teaspoonfuls with water, as an 
agreeable stomachic bitter. Eau de Cologne contains oil 
of neroli, oil of citron, and oil of orange. 

The fresh juice of Oranges is antiseptic, and will pre- 
vent scurvy if taken in moderation daily. Common 
Oranges cut through the middle while green, and dried 
in the air, being afterwards steeped for forty days in oil, 
are used by the Arabs for preparing an essence famous 
among their old women because it will restore a fresh 
dark, or black colour to grey hair. The custom of a 
bride wearing Orange blossoms, is probably due to the 
fact that flowers and fruit appear together on the tree, 
in token of a wish that the bride may retain the graces 
of maidenhood amid the cares of married life. This 
custom has been derived from the Saracens, and was 
originally suggested also by the fertility of the Orange 

The rind of the Seville Orange has proved curative of 
ague, and powerfully remedial to restrain the monthly 
flux of women when in excess. Its infusion is of ser- 
vice also against flatulency. A drachm of the powdered 
leaves may be given for a dose in nervous and hysterical 
ailments. Finally, " the Orange," adds John Evelyn, 
" sharpens appetite, exceedingly refreshes, and resists 

With respect to the fruit, it is said that workpeople 
engaged in the orange trade enjoy a special immunity 
from influenza, whilst a free partaking of the juice 
given largely, has been found preventive of pneu- 



monia as complicating this epidemic. The benefit is 
said to occur through lessening the fibrin of the blood. 

In the time of Shakespeare, it was the fashion to carry 
"pomanders," these being oranges from which all the 
pulp had been scooped out, whilst a circular hole was 
made at the top. Then after the peel had become diy, 
the fruit was filled with spices, so as to make a sort of 
scent-box. Orange lilies, Orangemen, and William of 
Orange, are all more or less associated with this fruit. 
The Dutch Government had no love for the House of 
Orange : and many a grave burgomaster went so far as 
to banish from his garden the Orange lily, and Marigold ; 
also the sale of Oranges and Carrots was prohibited in 
the markets on account of their aristocratic colour. 

There exists at Brighton a curious custom of bowling 
or throwing Oranges along the high road on Boxing day. 
He whose Orange is hit by that of another, forfeits the 
fruit to the successful hitter. 

In Henry the Eighth's reign Oranges were made into 
pies, or the juice was squeezed out, and mixed with 
wine. This fruit when peeled, and torn into sections, 
after removing the white pith, and the pips, and sprink- 
ling over it two or three spoonfuls of powdered loaf 
sugar, makes a most wholesome salad. A few candied 
orange-flower petals will impart a fine flavour to tea 
when infused with it. 


Our common English Orchids are the " Early Purple," 
which is abundant in our woods and pastures ; the 
" Meadow Orchis " ; and the "Spotted Orchis " of our 
heaths and commons. Less frequent are the " Bee 
Orchis,^' the " Butterfly Orchis," " Lady's Tresses," and 
the " Tway blade." 



Two roundish tubers form the root of an Orchid, and 
give its name to the plant from the Greek orchis, 
testicle. A nutritive starchy product named Salep, or 
Saloop, is prepared from the roots of the common Male 
Orchis, and its infusion or decoction was taken generally 
in this country as a beverage before the introduction of 
tea and coffee. Sassafras chips were sometimes added 
for giving the drink a flavour. Salep obtained from 
the tubers of foreign Orchids was specially esteemed ; 
and even now that sold in Indian bazaars is so highly 
valued for its fine qualities that most extravagant prices 
are paid for it by wealthy Orientals. Also in Persia 
and Turkey it is in great repute for recruiting the 
exhausted vitality of aged, and enervated persons. In 
this country it may be purchased as a powder, but not 
readily miscible with water, so that many persons fail in 
making the decoction. The powder should be first 
stirred with a little spirit of wine : then the water 
should be added suddenly, and the mixture boiled. 
One dram by weight of the salep powder in a fluid dram 
and a half of the spirit, to half-a-pint of water, are the 
proper proportions. Sometimes amber, cloves, cinna- 
mon, and ginger are added. 

Dr. Lind, in the middle of the last century, strongly 
advised that ships, and soldiers on long marches, should 
be provided with Salep made into a paste or cake. 
This (with a little portable soup added) will allay 
hunger and thirst if made liquid. An ounce in two 
quarts of boiling water will sufficientlv sustain a man 
for one day, being a combination of animal and vegetable 
foods. Among the early Eomans the Orchis was often 
called " Satyrion," because it was thought to be the food 
of the Satyrs, exciting them to their sexual orgies. 
Hence the Orchis root became famous as an aphrodisiac 



medicine, and has been so described by all herbalists 
from the time of Dioscorides. 

A tradition is ascribed to the English Orchis Mascula 
(early Purple), of which the leaves are usually marked 
with purple spots. It is said that these are stains of the 
precious blood which flowed from our Lord's body on 
the cross at Calvary, where this species of Orchis is 
reputed to have grown. Similarly in Cheshire, the plant 
bears the name of Gethsemane. This early Orchis is the 
" long Purples," mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet : 
and it is sometimes named " Dead men's fingers," from 
the pale colour, and the hand-like shape of its tubers. 

" That liberal shepherds give a grosser name, 
But our cold maids do ' dead men's fingers' call them. 

It is further styled " Cain and Abel " and " Rams' 
horns," the odour being offensive, especially in the 
evening. It thrives wherever the wild hyacinth 
flourishes, and is believed by some to grow best where 
the earth below is rich in metal. Country people in 
Yorkshire call it " Crake feet," and in Kent " Keatlegs," 
or "Neat legs." The roots of this Orchis abound with 
a glutinous sweetish juice, of which a Salep may be 
made Avhich is quite equal to any brought from the 
Levant. The new root should be washed in hot water, 
and its thin brown skin rubbed off with a linen cloth. 
Having thus prepared a sufficient number of roots, the 
operator should spread them on a tin plate in a hot oven 
for eight or ten minutes, until they get to look horny, 
but without shrinking in size : and being then with- 
drawn, they may be dried with more gentle heat, or by 
exposure to the air. Their concocted juice can be 
employed with the same intentions and in the same 
complaints as gum arable, — about which we read that 



not only has it served to sustain whole negro towns 
during a scarcity of other provisions, but the Arabs who 
collect it by the river Niger have nothing else to live 
upon for months together. 

Salep is a most useful article of diet for those who 
suffer from chronic diarrhoea. 


Parsley is found in this country only as a cultivated 
plant, having been introduced into England from 
Sardinia in the sixteenth century. It is an umbelli- 
ferous herb, which has been long of garden growth for 
kitchen uses. The name was formerly spelt " Percely," 
and the herb was known as March, or Merich (in Anglo- 
Saxon, Merici). Its adjective title, Petro-selinum, signifies 
growing on a rock." The Greeks held Parsley in high 
esteem, making therewith the victor's crown of dried 
and withered Parsley, at their Isthmian games, and the 
wreath for adorning the tombs of their dead. Hence 
the proverb, Deeisthai selinon (to need only Parsley) was 
applied to persons dangerously ill, and not expected to 
live. The herb was never brought to table of old, being 
held sacred to oblivion and the defunct. 

It is reputed to have sprung from the blood of a Greek 
hero, Archemorus, the fore-runner of death ; and Homer 
relates that chariot horses were fed by warriors with 
this herb. Greek gardens were often bordered with 
Parsley and Eue : and hence arose the saying when an 
undertaking was in contemplation but not yet com- 
menced, " Oh ! we are only at the Parsley and Rue." 

Garden Parsley was not cultivated in England until 
the second year of Edward the Sixth's reign, 1548. In 
our modern times the domestic herb is associated rather 
with those who come into the world than with those 


who go out of it. Proverbially the Parsley-bed is 
propounded to our little people who ask awkward 
questions, as the fruitful source of new-born brothers 
and sisters when suddenly appearing within the limits 
of the family circle. In Suffolk there is an old belief 
that to ensure the herb coming up " double," Parsley 
seed must be sown on Good Friday. 

The root is faintly aromatic, and has a sweetish taste. 
It contains a chemical principle, " apiin," sugar, starch, 
and a volatile oil. Likewise the fruit furnishes the 
same volatile oil in larger abundance, this oil comprising 
parsley-camphor, and "apiol," the true essential oil of 
parsley, which may be now had from all leading drug- 
gists. Apiol exercises all the virtues of the entire 
plant, and is especially beneficial for women who are 
irregular as to their monthly courses because of 
ovarian debility. From three t-o six drops should be 
given on sugar, or in milk (or as a prepared capsule) 
twice or three times in the day for some days together, at 
the times indicated, beginning early at the expected 
date of each period. If too large a dose of apiol be 
taken it will cause headache, giddiness, staggering, and 
deafness ; and if going still further, it will induce 
epileptiform convulsions. For which reason, in small 
diluted doses, the same medicament will curatively meet 
this train of symptoms when occurring as a morbid 
state. And it is most likely on such account Parsley 
has been popularly said to be " poison to men, and 
salvation to women." Apiol was first obtained in 1849, 
by Drs. Joret and Homolle, of Brittany, and proved an 
excellent remedy there for a prevailing ague. It 
exercises a singular influence on the great nervous 
centres within the head and spine. Bruised Parsley seeds 
make a decoction which is likewise beneficial against 


jigue and intermittent fever. They have gained a 
reputation in America as having a special tendency to 
regulate the reproductive functions in either sex. 
Country folk in many places think it unlucky to sow 
Parsley, or to move its roots ; and a rustic adage runs 
thus : " Fried parsley brings a man to his saddle, and 
a woman to her grave." Taking Parsley in excess at 
table will impair the eyesight, especially the tall Parsley ; 
for which reason it was forbidden by Chrysippus and 

The root acts more readily on the kidneys than other 
parts of the herb ; therefore its decoction is useful when 
the urine becomes difficult through a chill, or because of 
gravel. The bruised leaves applied externally will serve 
to soften hard breasts early in lactation, and to resolve 
the glands in nursing, when they become knotty and 
painful, with a threatened abscess. Sheep are fond of 
the plant, which protects them from foot-rot ; but it acts 
as a deadly poison to parrots. 

In France a rustic application to scrofulous swellings 
is successfully used, which consists of Parsley and snails 
pounded together in a mortar to the thickness of an 
ointment. This is spread on coarse linen and applied 
freely every clay. Also on the Continent, and in some 
parts of England, snails as well as slugs are thought to 
be efficacious medicinally in consumption of the lungs, 
even more so than cod-liver oil. The Helix 'pomatia (or 
Apple Snail) is specially used in France, being kept for 
the purpose in a snaillery, or board ed-in space of which 
the floor is covered half-a-foot deep with herbs. 

The Romans were very partial to these Apple Snails, 
and fattened them for the table with bran soaked in 
wine until the creatures attained almost a fabulous size. 
Even in this country shells of Apple Snails have been 



found which would hold a pound's worth of silver. The 
large Snail was brought to England in the sixteenth 
century, to the South downs of Surrey, and Sussex, and 
to Box Hill by an Earl of Arundel for his Countess, who 
had them dressed, and ate them because of her con- 
sumptive disease. Likewise in Pliny's time Snails beaten 
up with warm water were commended for the cure of 
coughs. Gipsies are great Snail eaters, but they first 
starve the creatures, which are given to devour the 
deadly Night Shade, and other poisonous plants. It is 
certain that Snails retain the flavour and odour of the 
vegetables which they consume. 

The chalky downs of the South of England are litei'ally 
covered with small snails, and many persons suppose 
that the superior flavour of South Down mutton is due 
to the thousands of these snails which the sheep 
consume together with the pasture on which they feed. 
In 1854 a medical writer set forth the curative virtues 
of HeUciii, a glutinous constituent principle derived from 
the Snail, and to be given in broth as a remedy for 
pulmonary consumption. In France the Apple Snail is 
known as the "great Escargot"; and the Snail gardens 
in which the gasteropods are fattened, and reared, go by 
the name of "Escargotoires." Throughout the winter the 
creatures hybernate, shutting themselves up by their 
operculum whilst lying among dead leaves, or having 
fixed themselves by their glutinous secretion to a wall or 
tree. They are only taken for use whilst in this state. 
According to a gipsy, the common English Snail is quite 
as good to be eaten, and quite as beneficial as an Apple 
Snail, but there is less of him. In Wiltshire, when 
collected whilst hybernating, snails are soaked in salted 
water, and then grilled on the bars of the grate. About 
France the Escargots are dried, and prepared as a lozenge 



for coughs. Our common garden Snail is the Helix 
aspersa. On the Continent for many years past the large 
Apple Snail, together with a reddish-brown slug, the 
Arion Eufus, has been employed in medicine for colds, 
sore throats, and a tendency to consumption of the 
lungs. These contain " limacine," and eight per cent, of 
emollient mucilage, together with " helicin," and uric 
acid just under the shell. Many quarts of cooked 
garden snails are sold every week to the labouring 
classes in Bristol ; and an annual Feast of Snails is held 
in the neighbourhood of Newcastle. Mrs. Delaney in 
1758, recommended that "two or three snails should be 
boiled in the barley-water which Mary takes who coughs 
at night. She must know nothing of it ; they give no 
manner of taste. Six or eight boiled in water, and 
strained off, and put in a bottle would be a good way of 
adding a spoonful of the same to every liquid thing she 
takes. They must be fresh done every two or three 
days, otherwise they grow too thick." The London 
Gazette, of March 23rd, 1739, tells that Mrs. Joanna 
Stephens received from the Government five thousand 
pounds for revealing the secret of her famous cure 
against stone in the bladder, and gravel. This consisted 
chiefly of eggshells, and snails, mixed with soap, honey 
and herbs. It was given in powders, decoctions, and 
pills. To help weak eyes in South Hampshire, snails 
and bread crust are made into a poultice. 

A moderate dose of Parsley oil when taken in health, 
induces a sense of warmth at the pit of the stomach, 
and of general well-being. The powdered seeds may 
be taken in doses of from ten to fifteen grains. The 
bruised leaves have successfully resolved tumours of hard 
(scirrhous) cancer when cicuta, and mercury had failed. 

Though used so commonly at table, facts have proved 



thcat the herb, especially when uncooked, may bring on 
epilepsy in certain constitutions, or at least aggravate 
the fits in those who are subject to them. Alston says : 
" I have observed after eating plentifully of raw Parsley, 
a fulness of the vessels about the head, and a tenderness 
of the eyes (somewhat inflamed) and face, as if the 
cravat were too tight." 

The victors at the old Grecian games were crowned 
with chaplets of Parsley leaves ; and it is more than 
probable our present custom of encircling a joint, and 
garnishing a dish with the herb had its origin in this 
practice. The Romans named Parsley Apimn, either 
because their bee (ajns) v/as specially fond of the herb, 
or from apej; the head of a conqueror, who was crowned 
with it. The tincture has a decided action on the lining 
membrane of the urinary passages, and may be given 
usefully when this is inflamed, or congested through 
catarrh, in doses of from five to ten drops three times 
in the day with a spoonful or two of cold water. 

Wild Parsley is probably identical with our garden 
herb. It is called in the Western counties Eltrot, 
perhaps because associated with the gambols of the elves. 

The Fool's Parsley ((Uthusa cympium) is a very 
common wayside weed, and grows wild in our gardens. 
It differs botanically from all other parsleys in having 
no bracts, but three narrow leaves at the base of each 
umbel. This is a more or less poisonous herb, producing, 
when eaten in a harmful quantit}^, convulsive and 
epileptic symptoms ; also an inflamed state of the 
eyelids, just such as is seen in the scrofulous ophthalmia 
of children, the condition being accompanied with 
swelling of glands and eruptions on the skin. 
Therefore the tincture which is made (H.) of Fool's 
Parsley, Avhen given in small doses, and diluted, proves 



very useful for such ophthalmia, and for obviating the 
convulsive attacks of young children, especially if con- 
nected with derangement of the digestive organs. Also 
as a medicine it has done much good in some cases of 
mental imbecility. And this tincture will correct the 
Summer diarrhoea of infants, when the stools are watery, 
greenish, and without smell. From three to ten drops 
of the tincture diluted to the third decimal strength, 
should be given as a dose, and repeated at intervals, 
for the symptoms just recited. 

This variety is named (Ethusa, because of its acridity, 
from the Greek verb aitJio (to burn). " It has faculties," 
says Gerard, " answerable to the common Hemlock," 
the poisonous effects being inflamed stomach and 
bowels, giddiness, delirium, convulsions, and insensibility. 
It is called also " Dog's Parsley" and " Kicks." 

The leaves of the Fool's Parsley are glossy beneath, 
with lanceolate lobes, whereas the leaflets of other 
parsleys are woolly below. Gerard calls it Dog's 
Parsley, and says : "The whole plant is of a naughty 
smell." It contains a peculiar alkaloid " cynapina." 
The tincture, third decimal strength, in half-drop doses, 
with a teaspoonful of water, will prevent an infant from 
vomiting the breast milk in thick curds. 

Another variety which grows in chalky districts, the 
Stone Parsley, Sison, or breakstone, was formerly 
known as the " Hone-wort," from curing a "hone," or 
boil, on the cheek. It was believed at one time to break 
a glass goblet or tumbler if rubbed against this article. 


The Wild Parsnip {Pastinacd safira) grows on the 
borders of ploughed fields and about hedgerows, being 
generally hairy, whilst the Garden Parsnip is smooth, 



with taller stems, and leaves of a yellowish-green 
colour. This cultivated Parsnip has been produced as 
a vegetable since Roman times. The roots furnish a 
good deal of starch, and are very nutritious for warming 
and fattening, but when long in the ground they are 
called in some places " Madnip," and are said to cause 

Chemically, they contain also albumen, sugar, pectose, 
dextrin, fat, cellulose, mineral matters, and water, but 
less sugar than turnips or carrots. The volatile 
oil with which the cultivated root is furnished causes 
it to disagree with persons of delicate stomach ; other- 
wise it is highly nutritive, and makes a capital supple- 
ment to salt fish, in Lent. The seeds of the wild 
Parsnip (quite a common plant) are aromatic, and are 
kept by druggists. They have been found curative in 
ague, and for intermittent fever, by their volatile oil, or 
by its essence given as a medicine. But the seeds of the 
garden Parsnip, which are easier to get, though not 
nearly so efficacious, are often substituted at the shops. 
A decoction of the wild root is good for a sluggish liver, 
and in passive jaundice. 

In Gerard's time. Parsnips were known as Mypes. 
Marmalade made with the roots, and a small quantity of 
sugar, will improve the appetite, and serve as a resto- 
rative to invalids. 

From the mashed roots of the wild Parsnip in some 
parts of Ireland, when boiled with hops, the peasants 
brew a beer. In Scotland a good dish is prepared from 
Parsnips and potatoes, cooked and beaten together, with 
butter. Parsnip wine, when properly concocted, is 
particularly exhilarating and refreshing. 

The Water Parsnip (spelt also in old Herhals, Pasnep, 
and Pastnip, and called Slum) is an umbelliferous plant, 



common by the sides of rivers, lakes, and ditches, with 
tender leaves which are "a sovereign remedy against 
gravel in the kidney, and stone in the bladder." It is 
known also as Apium nodiflorim, from a2:)on, water, and 
contains " pastinacina," in common with the wild 
Parsnip. This is a volatile alkaloid which is not 
poisonous, and is thought to be almost identical with 
ammonia. The fresh juice, in doses of one, two, or 
three tablespoonfuls, twice a day, is of curative effect 
for scrofulous eruptions on the face, neck, and other 
parts of children. Dr. Withering tells of a child, aged 
six years, who was thus cured of an obstinate and other- 
wise intractable skin disease. The juice may be readily 
mixed with milk, and does not disagree in any way. 

PEA and BEAN. 

Typical of leguminous plants (so called because they 
furnish legumin, or vegetable cheese), whilst furthermore 
possessing certain medicinal properties, the Bean and 
the Pea have a claim to be classed with Herbal Simples. 

The common Kidney Bean {Phaseolus vulgaris) is a 
native of the Indies, but widely cultivated all over 
Europe, and so well known as not to need any detailed 
description as a plant. Because of the seed's close 
resemblance to the kidney, as well as to the male 
testis, the Egyptians made it an object of sacred worship, 
and would not partake of it as food. They feared lest 
by so doing they should eat what was human remaining 
after death in the Bean, or should consume a soul. The 
Romans celebrated feasts (Lemuria) in honour of their 
departed, when Beans were cast into the fire on the altar ; 
and the people threw black Beans on the graves of the 
deceased, because the smell was thought disagreeable to 
any hostile Manes. In Italy at the present day it is 



customary to eat Beans, and to distribute them among 
the poor, on the anniversary of a death. Because of its 
decided tendency to cause sleepiness the Jewish High 
Priest was forbidden to partake of Beans on the day of 
Atonement ; and there is now a common saying in 
Leicestershire that for bad dreams, or to be driven crazy, 
one has only to sleep all night in a Bean field. The 
philosopher, Pythagoras, warned his pupils against eating 
Beans, the black spot thereon being typical of death ; 
and the disciples were ever mindful: Jurare in verba 
magistri.'' When bruised and boiled with garlic. Beans 
have been known to cure coughs which were past other 
remedies. But the roots of the Kidney Bean have 
proved themselves dangerously narcotic. 

The Pea (Pisum sativum) is a native of England, first tak- 
ing its botanical name from Pisa, a town of Elis, where 
Peas grew in plenty. The English appellation was for- 
merly Peason, or Pease, and the plant has been cultivated 
in this country from time immemorial ; though not com- 
monly, even in Elizabeth's day, when (as Fuller informs 
us) " Peas were brought from Holland, and were fit 
dainties for ladies, they came so far, and cost so dear." In 
Germany Peas are thought good for many complaints, 
especially for wounds and bruises ; children affected 
with measles are washed there systematically with water 
in which peas have been boiled. These, together with 
Beans and lentils, etc., are included under the general 
name of pulse, about which Cowper wrote thus : — 

" Daniel ate pulse by choice : example rare ! 
Heaven blest the youth, and made him fresh and fair." 

Grey Peas were provided in the pits of the Greek and 
Roman theatres, as we supply oranges and a bill of the 



"Hot Grey Pease and a suck of bacon" (tied to a 
string of which the stall-keeper held the other end), was 
a popular street cry in the London of James the First. 

Peas and Beans contain sulphur, and are richer in 
mineral salts, such as potash and lime, than wheat, 
barley, or oats ; but their constituents are apt to provoke 
indigestion, whilst engendering flatulence through sul- 
phuretted hydrogen. They best suit persons who take 
plenty of out-door exercise, but not those of sedentary 
habits. The skins of parched Peas remain undigested 
when eaten cooked, and are found in the excrements. 
These leguminous plants are less easily assimilated than 
light animal food by persons who are not robust, or 
laboriously employed, though vegetarians assert to the 
contrary. Lord Tennyson wrote to such effect as the 
result of his personal experience (in his dedication of 
Tiresias to E. Fitzgerald) : — 

" Who live on meal, and milk, and grass : — 

And once for ten long weeks I tried 
Your table of Pythagoras, 

And seem'd at first ' a thing enskied' 
(As Shakespeare has it) — airylight, 

To float above the ways of men : 
Then fell from that half spiritual height, 

Until I tasted flesh again. 
One night when earth was winter black, 

And all the heavens were flashed in frost, 
And on me — half asleep — came back 

That wholesome heat the blood had lost." 

But none the less does a simple diet foster spirituality 
of mind. "In milk" — says one of the oldest Yedas — "the 
finer part of the curds, when shaken, rises and becomes 
butter. Just so, my child, the finer part of food rises 
when it is eaten, and becomes mind." 

Old Fuller relates " In a general dearth all over 




England (1555), plenty of Pease did grow on the sea- 
shore, near Dunwich (Suffolk), never set or sown by 
human industry, which being gathered in full ripeness 
much abated the high prices in the markets, and pre- 
served many hungry families from famishing." They 
do not grow " saj^s he, "among the bare stones, neither 
did they owe their original to shipwrecks, or Pease cast 
out of ships." The Sea-side Pea (pisum maritimum) is a 
rare plant. 


The Peach {Amygdalus Per ska), the apple of Persia, began 
to be cultivated in England about 1562, or perhaps 
before then. Columella tells of this fatal gift conveyed 
treacherously to Egypt in the first century : — 

" Apples, which most barbarous Persia sent, 
With native poison armed." 

The Peach tree is so well known by its general charac- 
teristics as not to need any particular description. Its 
young branches, flowers, and seeds, after maceration 
in water, yield a volatile oil which is chemically 
identical with that of the bitter almond. The flowers 
are laxative, and have been used instead of manna. 
When distilled, they furnish a white liquor which com- 
municates a flavour resembling the kernels of fruits. An 
infusion made from one drachm of the dried flowers, or 
from half an ounce of the fresh flowers, has a purgative 
efl'ect. The fruit is wholesome, and seldom disagrees 
if eaten when ripe and sound. Its quantity of sugar 
is only small, but the skin is indigestible. 

The leaves possess the power of expelling worms if 
applied outside a child's belly as a poultice, but in any 
medicinal form they must be used with caution, as they 
contain some of the properties of prussic acid, as found 



also in the leaves of the laurel. A syrup of Peach 
flowers was formerly a preparation recognised by 
apothecaries. The leaves infused in white brandy, 
sweetened with barley sugar, make a fine cordial similar 
to noyeau. Soyer says the old Romans gave as much 
for their peaches as eighteen or nineteen shillings each. 

Peach pie, owing to the abundance of the fruit, is as 
common fare in an American farm-house, as apple pie in 
an English homestead. Our English King John died at 
Swinestead Abbey from a surfeit of peaches, and new 

A tincture made from the flowers will allay the pain 
of colic caused by gravel ; but the kernels of the fruit, 
which yield an oil identical with that of bitter almonds, 
have produced poisonous effects with children. 

Grerard teaches " that a syrup or strong infusion of 
Peach flowers doth singularly well purge the belly, and 
yet without grief or trouble." Two tablespoonfuls of 
the infusion for a dose. 

In Sicily there is a belief that any one afflicted with 
goitre, who eats a Peach on the night of St. John, or 
the Ascension, will be cured, provided only that the 
Peach tree dies at the same time. In Italy Peach leaves 
are applied to a wart, and then buried, so that they and 
the wart may perish simultaneously. 

Thackeray one day at dessert was taken to task by 
his colleague on the Punch staff, Angus B. Reach, whom 
he addressed as Mr. Reach, instead of as Mr. (Scotticd) 
Re-ack. With ready promptitude, Thackeray replied : 
" Be good enough Mr. Re-ack to pass me a pe-ack." 


The Pear, also called Pyrrie, belongs to the same natural 
order of plants (the Rosacece) as the Apple. It is some- 



times called the Pyerie, and when wild is so hard and 
austere as to bear the name of Choke-pear. It grows 
Avild in Britain, and abundantly in France and Germany. 
The Barland Pear, which was chiefly cultivated in the 
seventeenth century, still retains its health and vigour, 
" the identical trees in Herefordshire which then supplied 
excellent liquor, continuing to do so in this, the nineteenth 

This fruit caused the death of Drusus, a son of the 
Roman Emperor Claudius, who caught in his mouth a 
Pear thrown into the air, and by mischance attempted 
to swallow it, but the Pear was so extremely hard that 
it stuck in his throat, and choked him. 

Pears gathered from gardens near old monasteries 
were formerly held in the highest repute for flavour, 
and it was noted that the trees which bore them 
continued fruitful for a great number of years. The 
secret cause seems to have been, not the holy water with 
which the trees were formally christened, but the fact 
that the sagacious monks had planted them upon a layer 
of stones so as to prevent the roots from penetrating 
deep into the ground, and so as thus to ensure their 
proper drainage. 

The cellular tissue of which a Pear is composed 
difiers from that of the apple in containing minute 
stony concretions which make it, in many varieties of 
the fruit, bite short and crisp ; and its specific gravity 
is therefore greater than that of the apple, so much 
so that by taking a cube of each of equal size, that 
of the Pear will sink when thrown into a vessel of 
water, while that of the apple will float. The wood 
of the wild Pear is strong, and readily stained black, 
so as to look like ebony. It is much employed by 
wood-engravers. Gerard says "it serveth to be cut 



up into many kinds of moulds : not only such fruits as 
those seen in my Herbal are made of, but also many 
sorts of pretty toies for coifes, breast plates, and such 
like ; used among our English gentlewomen." 

The good old black Pear of Worcester is represented 
in the civic arms, or rather in the second of the two 
shields belonging to the faithful city : Argent, a fesse 
between three Pears, sable. The date of this shield 
coincides with that of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to 

Virgil names three kinds of Pears which he received 
as a present from Cato : — 

" Nec surculus idem, 
Crustaneis, Syriisque pyris, gravibusque volemis." 

The two first of these were Bergamots and Pounder 
Pears, whilst the last-named was called a volemus, 
because large enough to fill the hollow of the hand, 

Mural paintings which have been disclosed at 
Pompeii represent the Pear tree and its fruit. In 
Pliny's time there were "proud" Pears, so called 
because they ripened early, and would not keep ; and 
" winter " pears for baking, etc. Again, in the time of 
Henry the Eighth, a " warden " Pear, so named (Anglo- 
Saxon " wearden ") from its property of long keeping, 
was commonly cultivated. 

" Her cheek was like the Catherine Pear, 
The side that's next the sun," 

says one of our old poets concerning a small fruit seen 
often now-a-days in our London streets, handsome, but 
hard, and ill-flavoured. 

The special taste of Pears is chemically due for the 
most part to their containing amylacetate ; and a 



solution of this substance in spirit is artificially prepared 
for making essence of Jargonelle Pears, as used for 
flavouring Pear drops and other sweetmeats. The 
acetate amyl is a compound ether got from vinegar and 
potato oil. Pears contain also malic acid, pectose, gum, 
sugar, and albumen, with mineral matter, cellulose, and 
water. Gerard says wine made of the juice of Pears, 
called in English, Perry, purgeth those that are not 
accustomed to drinke thereof, especially when it is new ; 
notwithstanding, it is as wholesome a drink (being 
taken in small quantity) as wine ; it comforteth and 
warmeth the stomacke, and causeth good digestion." 

Perry contains about one per cent, alcohol over cider, 
and a slightly larger proportion of malic acid, so that it 
is rather more stimulating, and somewhat better 
calculated to produce the healthful effects of vegetable 
acids in the economy. How eminently beneficial fruits 
of such sort are when ripe and sound, even to persons 
out of health, is but little understood, though happily 
the British public is grooving wiser to-day in this 
respect. For instance, it has been lately discovered 
that there is present in the juice of the Pine-apple a 
vegetable digestive ferment, which, in its action, 
imitates almost identically the gastric juices of the 
stomach ; and a demand for Bananas is developing 
rapidly in London since their wholesome virtues have 
become generally recognised. It is a remarkable fact 
that the epidemics of yellow fever in New Orleans 
have declined in virulence almost incredibly since the 
Banana began to be eaten there in considerable 
quantities. If a paste of its ripe pulp dried in the sun 
be made with spice, and sugar, this will keep well for 

At Godstone, as is related in Brays Survey^ the water 



from a well sunk close to a wild Pear tree (which 
bore fruit as hard as iron) proved so curative of gout, 
that large quantities of it were sent to London and 
sold there at the rate of sixpence a quart. Pears were 
deemed by the Romans an antidote to poisonous fungi ; 
and for this reason, which subsequent experience has 
confirmed, Perry is still reckoned the best thing to be 
taken after eating freely of mushrooms, as also Pear 
stalks cooked therewith. 

There is an old Continental saying : Pome, perSy 
ed noce guastano la voce — "Apples, pears, and nuts spoil 
the voice." And an ancient rhymed distich says : — 

" For the cough take Judas eare, 
With the parynge of a pear ; 
And drynke them without feare, 
If ye will have remedy." 

All Pears are cold, and have a binding quality, with 
an earthy substance in their composition. 

It should be noted that Pears dried in the oven, and 
kept without syrup, will remain quite good, and eatable 
for a year or more. 

Most Pears depend on birds for the dispersion of 
their seeds, but one striking variety prefers to attract 
bees, and the larger insects for cross-fertilization, and it 
has therefore assumed brilliant crimson petals of a 
broadly expanded sort, instead of bearing a succulent 
edible fruit. This is the highly ornamental Fynis 
Jcqmiica, which may so often be seen trained on the 
sunny walls of cottages. 


A PLANT belonging to the order of Nettles, the Pellitory 
of the Wall, or Paritory — Parietaria, from the Latin 
parietes, walls — is a favourite Herbal Simple in many 



rural districts. It grows commonly on dry walls, and 
is in flower all the summer. The leaves are narrow, 
hairy, and reddish ; the stems are brittle, and the small 
blossoms hairy, in clusters. Their filaments are so elastic 
that if touched before the flower has expanded, they 
suddenly spring from their incurved position, and 
scatter the pollen broadcast. 

An infusion of the plant is a popular medicine to 
stimulate the kidneys, and promote a large flow of 
watery urine. The juice of the herb acts in the same 
way when made into a thin syrup with sugar, and 
given in doses of tw^o tablespoonfuls three times in 
the day. Dropsical efl'usions caused by an obstructed 
liver, or by a weak dilated heart, may be thus carried 
off" with marked relief. The decoction of Parietaria, says 
Gerard, " helpeth such as are troubled with an old 
cough." All parts of the plant contain nitre abundantly. 
The leaves may be usefully applied as poultices. 

But another Pellitory, which is more widely used 
because of its pungent efficacy in relieving toothache, 
and in provoking a free flow of saliva, is a distinct 
plant, the Pyrethrum, or Spanish Chamomile of the 
shops, and not a native of Great Britain, though 
sometimes cultivated in our gardens. The title 
" Purethron " is from pur, fire, because of its burning 
ardent taste. Its root is scentless, but when chewed 
causes a pricking sensation (with heat, and some 
numbness) in the mouth and tongue. Then an abundant 
flow of saliva, and of mucus within the cheeks quickly 
ensues. These effects are due to " pyrethrin " contained 
in the plant, which is an acid fixed resin ; also there are 
present a second resin, and a yellow, acrid oil, whilst 
the root contains inulin, tannin, and other substances. 
When sliced and applied to the skin it induces heat. 



tingling, and redness. A patient seeking relief from 
rheumatic or neuralgic affections of the head and face, 
or for palsy of the tongue, should chew the root of this 
Pyrethrum for several minutes. 

The " Pelleter of Spain " (Pyrethrum Anacydus), was 
so styled, not because of being brought from Spain, but 
because it is grown there. 

A gargle of Pyrethrum infusion is prescribed for 
relaxed uvula, and for a partial paralysis of the tongue 
and lips. The tincture made from the dried root may 
be most helpfully applied on cotton wool to the interior 
of a decayed tooth which is aching, or the milder 
tincture of the wall Pellitory may be employed for the 
same purpose. To make a gargle, two or three tea- 
spoonfuls of the tincture of Pyrethrum, which can be had 
from any druggist, should be mixed with a pint of cold 
water, and sweetened with honey, if desired. The 
powdered root forms a good snuff to cure chronic 
catarrh of the head and nostrils, and to clear the brain 
by exciting a free flow of nasal mucus and tears — 
Purgatur cerebrum mansd radice Pyrethri. 

Incidentally, as a quaint but effective remedy for 
carious toothache, may be mentioned the common lady 
bird insect, Coccinella, which when captured secretes 
from its legs a yellow acrid fluid having a disagreeable 
odour. This fluid will serve to ease the most violent 
toothache, if the creature be placed alive in the cavity 
of the hollow tooth. 

Gerard says this Pyrethrum (Pellitory of Spain, or 
Pelletor) " is most singular for the surgeons of the 
hospitals to put into their unctions contra Neapolitamim 
morbwn, and such other diseases that are cousin germanes 
thereunto." The Parietaria, or Pellitory of the wall, is 
named Lichwort, from growing on stones. 



Sir William Roberts, of Manchester, has advised 
jujubes, made of gum arabic and pyrethrum, to be slowly 
masticated by persons who suffer from acid fermentation 
in the stomach, a copious flow of alkaline saliva being 
stimulated thereby in the mouth, which is repeatedly 
swallowed during the sucking of one or more of the 
jujubes, and which serves to neutralise the acid gener- 
ated within the stomach. Distressing heartburn is thus 
effectively relieved without taking injurious alkalies, 
such as potash and soda. 



There are two British Periwinkles growing wild ; the 
one Vinca major, or greater, a doubtful native, and found 
only in the neighbourhood of dwelling-houses ; the 
other Vinca minor, lesser, abounding in English woods, 
particularly in the Western counties, and often entirely 
covering the ground with its prostrate evergreen leaves. 
The common name of each is derived from vincio, to 
bind, as it were by its stems resembling cord ; or 
because bound in olden times into festive garlands and 
funeral chaplets. Their title used also to be Pervinca, 
and Pervinkle, Pervenkle, and Pucellage (or virgin 

This generic name has been derived either from 
pervincire, to bind closely, or from perdncere, to over- 
come. Lord Bacon observes that it was common in his 
time for persons to wear bands of green Periwinkle 
about the calf of the leg to prevent cramp. Now-a-days 
we use for the same purpose a garter of small new 
corks strung on worsted. In Germany this plant is the 
emblem of immortality. It bears the name "Penny- 



winkles " in Hampshire, probably by an inland confusion 
with the shell fish "winkles." 

Each of the two kinds possesses acrid astringent 
properties, but the lesser Periwinkle, Vinca minor or 
Winter-green, is the Herbal Simple best known of the 
pair, for its medicinal virtues in domestic use. The 
Periwinkle order is called Apocynacece^ from the Greek 
apo, against, and hunos, a dog ; or dog's bane. 

The flowers of the greater Periwinkle are gently pur- 
gative, but lose their eff'ect by drying. If gathered in 
the Spring, and made into a syrup, they will impart all 
their virtues, and this is excellent to keep the bowels of 
children gently open, as well as to overcome habitual 
constipation in grown persons. But the leaves are 
astringent, contracting and strengthening the genitals 
if applied thereto either as a decoction, or as the 
bruised leaves themselves. An infusion of the greater 
Periwinkle, one part of the fresh plant to ten of water, 
may be used for staying female fluxes, by giving a wine- 
glassful thereof when cool, frequently ; or of the liquid 
extract, half a teaspoonful for a dose in water. On 
account of its striking colour, and its use for magical 
purposes, the plant, when in bloom, has been named 
the Sorcerer's Violet, and in some parts of Devon the 
flowers are known as Cut Finger or Blue Buttons. The 
Italians use it in making garlands for their dead infants, 
and so call it Death's flower. 

Simon Eraser, whose father was a faithful adherent of 
Sir William Wallace, when on his way to be executed 
(in 1306) was crowned in mockery with the Periwinkle, 
as he passed through the City of London, with his legs 
tied under the horse's belly. In Gloucestershire, the 
flowers of the greater Periwinkle are called Cockles. 

The lesser Periwinkle is perennial, and is sometimes 



cultivated in gardens, where it has acquired variegated 
leaves. It has no odour, but gives a bitterish taste which 
lasts in the mouth. Its leaves are strongly astringent, 
and therefore very useful to be applied for staying 
bleedings. If bruised and put into the nostrils, they 
will arrest fluxes from the nose, and a decoction made 
from them is of service for the diarrhoea of a weak 
subject, as well as for chronic looseness of the bowels ; 
likewise for bleeding piles, by being applied externally, 
and by being taken internally. Again, the decoction 
makes a capital gargle for relaxed sore throat, and for 
sponginess of the mouth, of the tonsils, and the gums. 

This plant was also a noted Simple for increasing the 
milk of wet nurses, and was advised for such purpose 
by physicians of repute. Culpeper gravely says : " The 
leaves of the lesser Periwinkle, if eaten by man and wife 
together, will cause love between them." 

A tincture is made (H.) from the said plant, the Vinca 
minor, with spirit of wine. It is given medicinally for the 
milk-crust of infants, as well as for internal haemorrhages, 
the dose being from two to ten drops three or four times 
in the day, with a spoonful of water. 


The " Poor Man's Weather Glass " or " Shepherd's 
Dial." is a very well-known and favourite little flower, 
of brilliant scarlet hue, expanding only in bright weather, 
and closing its petals at two o'clock in the day. It 
occurs quite commonly in gardens and open fields, being 
the scarlet Pimpernel, or A rmgallis arvensis, and belonging 
to the Primrose tribe of plants. Old authors called it 
Burnet ; which is quite a distinct herb, cultivated now 
for kitchen use, the Fimpinella Saxifrar/a, of so cheery 
and exhilarating a quality, and so generally commended^ 



that its excellence has passed into a proverb, " Finsolata 
non buon, ne betta ove non e PimimiellaJ' But this 
Burnet Pimpinella is of a different (Umbelliferous) order, 
though similarly styled because its leaves are likewise 

The Scarlet Pimpernel is named Anagallis, from the 
Greek anagelao, to laugh ; either because, as Pliny says, 
the plant removes obstructions of the liver, and spleen, 
which would engender sadness, or because of the graceful 
beauty of its flowers : — 

' ' No ear hath heard, no tongue can tell 
The virtues of the Pimpernell, " 

The little plant has no odour, but possesses a bitter 
taste, which is rather astringent. Doctors used to 
consider the herb remedial in melancholy, and in the 
allied forms of mental disease, the decoction, or a tinc- 
ture being employed. It was also prescribed for hydro- 
phobia, and linen cloths saturated with a decoction 
were kept applied to the bitten part. 

Narcotic effects were certainly produced in animals 
by giving considerable doses of an extract made from the 
herb. The flowers have been found useful in epilepsy, 
twenty grains dried being given four times a day. A 
medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared with spirit of wine. 
It is of approved utility for irritability of the main urinary 
passage, with genital congestion, erotism, and dragging 
of the loins, this tincture being then ordered of the third 
decimal strength, in doses of from five to ten drops 
every three or four hours, with a spoonful of water. 

A decoction of the plant is held in esteem by country- 
folk as checking pulmonary consumption in its early 
stages. Hill says there are many authenticated cases 
of this dire disease being absolutely cured by the herb. 



The infusion is best made by pouring boiling water on 
the fresh plant. It contains " saponin," such as the 
Soapwort also specially furnishes. 

In France the Pimpernel (Anagallis) is thought to be 
a noxious plant of drastic narcotico-acrid properties, and 
called Mouron — qiii tue les petits oiseaux, et est tin violent 
drastique pour riiomme, et les grands animaux ; a dose 
tres elevde le mouron pent meme leur donner la mort. 
In California a fluid extract of the herb is given for 
rheumatism, in doses of one teaspoonful with water 
three times a day. 

The Burnet Pimpinella is more correctly the Burnet 
Saxifrage, getting its first name because the leaves are 
brown, and the second because supposed to break up 
stone in the bladder. It grows abundantly in our dry 
chalky pastures, bearing terminal umbels of white 
flowers. It contains an essential oil and a bitter resin, 
which are useful as warmly carminative to relieve 
flatulent indigestion, and to promote the monthly flow 
in women. An infusion of the herb is made, and given 
in two tablespoonfuls for a dose. Cows which feed on 
this plant have their flow of milk increased thereby. 
Small bunches of the leaves and shoots when tied together 
and suspended in a cask of beer impart to it an agreeable 
aromatic flavour, and are thought to correct tart, or 
spoiled wines. The root, when fresh, has a hot pungent 
bitterish taste, and may be usefully chewed for tooth- 
ache, or to obviate paralysis of the tongue. In Germany 
a variety of this Burnet yields a blue essential oil which 
is used for colouring brandy. Again the herb is 
allied to the Anise {Pimpinella Anisum). The term 
Burnet was formerly applied to a brown cloth. Smaller 
than this Common Burnet is the Salad Burnet, Poterium 
sanguisorha, quod sanguineos fliixus sistat, a useful 



styptic, which is also cordial, and promotes perspiration. 
It has the smell of cucumber, and is, therefore, an 
ingredient of the salad bowl, or often put into a cool 
tankard, whereto, says Gerard, " it gives a grace in the 
drynkynge." Another larger sort of the Burnet 
Pimpinella (Magna), which has broad upper leaves less 
divided, grows in our woods and shady places. 

A bright blue variety of the true Scarlet Pimpernel 
(Anagallis) is less frequent, and is thought by many to 
be a distinct species. Gerard says, "the Pimpernel 
with the blue flower helpeth the fundament that is 
fallen down : and, contrariwise, red Pimpernel being 
applied bringeth it down." 

The Water Pimpernel (Anagallis aquatica) is more 
commonly known as Brooklime, or Beccabunga, and 
belongs to a different order of plants, the Scrophu- 
lariacece (healers of scrofula). 

It grows quite commonly in brooks and ditches, as 
a succulent plant with smooth leaves, and small flowers 
of bright blue, being found in situations favourable to 
the growth of the watercress. It is the brok lempe of old 
writers, Veronica beccabwnga, the syllable bee signifying 
a beck or brook ; or perhaps the whole title comes from 
the Flemish beck ]jungen, mouth-smart, in allusion to the 
pungent taste of the plant. 

" It is eaten," says Gerard, "in salads, as watercresses 
are, and is good against that malum of such as dwell 
near the German seas, which we term the scurvie, or 
skirby, being used after the same manner that watercress 
and scurvy -grass is used, yet is it not of so great 
operation and virtue." The leaves and stem are slightly 
acid and astringent, with a somewhat bitter taste, and 
frequently the former are mixed by sellers of water- 
cresses with their stock-in-trade. 



A full dose of the juice of fresh Brooklime is an easy 
purge ; and the plant has always been a popular Simple 
for scrofulous affections, especially of the skin. Chemi- 
cally, this Water Pimpernel contains some tannin, and 
a special bitter principle ; whilst, in common with most 
of the Cruciferous plants, it is endowed with a pungent 
volatile oil, and some sulphur. The bruised plant has 
been applied externally for healing ulcers, burns, whit- 
lows, and for the mitigation of swollen piles. 

The Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella), is common in 
boggy ground, having erect rose-coloured leaves larger 
than those of the Poor Man's Weather Glass. 


The Clove Pink, or Carnation of our gardens, though 
found apparently wild on old castle walls in England, is 
a naturalised flower in this country. It is, botanically, 
the Dianthus Caryophjllm, being so named as anthos, the 
tiower, dios, of Jupiter : whilst redolent of Caryophylli, 
Cloves. The term Carnation has been assigned to the 
Pink, either because the blossom has the colour, carnis, 
of flesh : or, as more correctly spelt by our older writers, 
Coronation, from the flowers being employed in making 
chaplets, coronce. Thus Spenser says : — 

" Bring Coronations, and Sops in Wine, 
Worn of paramours. " — Shex)herd's Kalendar. 

This second title, Sops in Wine, was given to the plant 
because the flowers were infused in wine for the sake of 
their spicy flavour ; especially in that presented to 
brides after the marriage ceremony. Further, this 
Pink is the Clove Gilly (or July) flower, and gives its 
specific name to the natural order Caryophyllacecn. 
The word Pink is a corruption of the Greek Pentecost 



(fiftieth), which has now come to signify a festival of 
the Church. In former days the blossoms were com- 
mended as highly cordial : their odour is sweet and 
aromatic, so that an agreeable syrup may be made 
therefrom. The dried petals, if powdered, and kept 
in a stoppered bottle, are of service against heartburn 
and flatulence, being given in a dose of from twenty 
to sixty grains. Gerard says, " a conserve made of the 
flowers with sugar is exceeding cordiall, and wonder- 
fully above measure doth comfort the heart, being 
eaten now and then. A water distilled from Pinks has 
been commended as excellent for curing epilepsy, and if 
a conserve be composed of them, this is the life and 
delight of the human race." The flower was at one 
time called ocelhis, from the eye-shaped markings of 
its corolla. It is nervine and antispasmodic. By a 
mistake Turner designated the Pink Incarnation. 


The Plantains (Plantaginacece), from planta, the sole of 
the foot, are humble plants, well known as weeds in 
fields and by roadsides, having ribbed leaves and spikes 
of flowers conspicuous by their long stamens. As 
Herbal Simples, the Greater Plantain, the Ribwort 
Plantain, and the Water Plantain, are to be specially 

The Greater Plantain of the waysides affords spikes of 
seeds which are a favourite food of Canaries, and which, 
in common with the seeds of other sorts, yield a taste- 
less mucilage, answering well as a substitute for linseed. 
The leaves of the Plantains have a bitter taste, and are 
somewhat astringent. 

The generic name Plantago is probably derived from 
the Latin planta, the sole of the foot, in allusion to the 




broad, flat leaves lying close on the ground, and ago, the 
old synonym for wort, a cultivated plant. 

This greater Plantain {Plantago major) is also termed 
Waybred, Waybread, or AYaybroad, "spread on the way," 
and has followed our colonists to all parts of the globe, 
being therefore styled " The Englishman's Foot " anii 
" Whiteman's Foot." The shape of the leaf in the 
larger species resembles a footprint. The root has a 
sweet taste, and gives the saliva a reddish tinge. 

Dioscorides advised that it should be applied exter- 
nally for sores of every kind, and taken internally 
against haemorrhages. In the Bmiieo and Juliet of 
Shakespeare, Romeo says, " Your Plantain leaf is excel- 
lent for broken shin.'' Country persons apply these 
leaves to open sores and Avounds, or make a poultice of 
them, or give fomentations with a hot decocdon of the 
same, or prepare a gargle from the decoction when 

The expressed juice of the greater Plantain has proved 
of curative eff'ect in tubercular consumption, with spitting 
of blood. This herb is said to furnish a cure for the 
venomous bite of the rattlesnake, as discovered by the 
negro Csesar in South Carolina. 

It is of excellent curative use against the intermittent 
fevers of Spring, but for counteracting autumnal {septic) 
fevers it is of no avail. 

The virtues of the greater Plantain as an application 
to wounds and sores were known of old. It pos- 
sesses a widespread repute in Switzerland as a local 
remedy for toothache, the root or leaves being applied 
against the ear of the affected side. Those persons who 
proved the plant by taking it experimentally in various 
doses, sutfered much pain in the teeth and jaws. 
Accordingly, Dr. Hale found that, of all his remedies 



for the toothache, none could compare with the Plantago 

It gives rise to an active flow of urine when taken in 
considerable doses, and when administered in small 
doses of the diluted tincture, it has proved curative of 
bed wetting in young children. Gerard tells that 
" Plantain leaves stuped stayeth the inordinate flux of 
the terms, though it hath continued man}^ years." For 
inflamed protruding piles, a broad-leaved Plantain re- 
duced to a pulp, and kept bound to the parts by a 
compress, will give sure and speedy relief. Highlanders 
call it Slanlus, the healing plant. 

The Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Eibgrass, 
Soldiers, or Cocks and Hens, is named from the strong 
parallel veins in its leaves. The flower stalks are 
termed Kemps, from campa, a warrior. The leaves are 
astringent, and useful for healing sores when applied 
thereto, and for dressing wounds. This Plantain is also 
named Hardheads, Fighting Cocks, and in Germany, 
Devil's Head, being used in divination. Children chal- 
lenge one another to a game of striking off the heads. 

Toads are thought to cure themselves of their ail- 
ments by eating its leaves. In Sussex, it is known as 
Lamb's Tongue. The powdered root of the Ribwort 
Plantain is of use for curing vernal ague, a dessertspoon- 
ful being given for a dose, two or three times in a 

The Water Plantain (Alisma Plantago), belonging to a 
diff'erent natural order, is common on the margins of our 
rivers and ditches, getting its name from the Celtic alos, 
water, and being called also the greater Thrumwort, 
from thrum, the warp end of a weaver's web. The root 
and leaves contain an acrid juice, dispersed by heat, 
which is of service for irritability of the bladder. After 



the root is boiled so as to dissipate this medicinal juice 
it makes an edible starchy vegetable. 

This plant is commonly classed with the Plantains 
because its leaves resemble theirs; but in general 
characteristics and qualities it more properly belongs to 
the Pumunodocece. 

Its fresh leaves applied to the skin will raise a 
blister, and may be used for such a purpose, especially 
to relieve the swollen legs of dropsical subjects when the 
vesicles should be punctured and the serum drawn off. 
They contain a pungent butyraceous volatile oil. The 
seeds dislodged from the dry, ripe plant, by striking it 
smarily on a table, are good in decoction against bleed- 
ings, and are employed by country people for curing 
piles. About the Kussian Empire the Water Plantain is 
still regarded as efficacious against hydrophobia. Dr. 
George Johnston says : " In the Government of Isola it 
has never failed of a cure for the last twenty -five years." 
Reduced to powder it is spread over bread and butter, 
and is eaten. Likewise, cures of rabid dogs by this 
plant are reported ; and in America it is renowned as a 
remedy against the bite of the rattlesnake. The tubers 
contain a nutritious substance, and are eaten by the 

Apropos of this " Water Plantain " a Teesdale proverb 
says : " He's nar a good weaver that leaves \ thrums." 

The small seeds of a Plantain grass which grows 
commonly in Southern Europe, the Fleawort, or Plantago 
Fsi/Uium, have been known from time immemorial as an 
easy and popular aperient. In France these Psyllium 
seeds, given in a dessertspoonful dose, are widely pre- 
scribed as a laxative in lieu of mineral aperient waters, 
or the morning Seidlitz. They act after being soaked 
for some hours in cold water, by their mucilage, and 



when swallowed, by virtue of a laxative oil set free 
within the intestines. The grass is well known in some 
parts as " Clammy Plantain," and it has leafless heads 
with toothed leaves. These seeds are dispensed by 
the London druggists who supply French medicines. 


The Scarlet Poppy of our cornfields {Fapaver Bhceas) 
is one of the most brilliant and familiar of English wild 
flowers, being strikingly conspicuous as a weed by its 
blossoms rich in scarlet petals, which are black at the 
base. The title Papaver has been derived from pap, 
a soft food given to young infants, in which it was at 
one time customary to boil Poppy seeds for the purpose 
of inducing sleep. Provincially this plant bears the 
titles of " Cop Rose" (from its rose-like flowers, and the 
button-like form of its cop, or capsule) and " Canker 
E-ose," from its detriment to wheat crops. 

The generic term Rhmas comes from reo, to fall, 
because the scarlet petals have so fragile a hold on their 
receptacles ; and the plant has been endowed with the 
sobriquet, " John Silver Pin, fair without and foul 
within." In the Eastern counties of England any article 
of finery brought out only occasionally, and worn with 
ostentation by a person otherwise a slattern, is called 
Joan Silver Pin." After this sense the appellation has 
been applied to the Scarlet Poppy. Its showy flower is 
so attractive to the eye, whilst its inner juice is noxious, 
and stains the hands of those who thoughtlessly crush 
it with their fingers. 

" And Poppies a sanguine mantle spread, 
For the blood of the dragon St. Margaret shed." 

Robert Turner naively says, " The Red Poppy Flower 
(Papaver erraticum) resembleth at its bottom the settling 


of the 'Blood in pleurisie ' " ; and, he adds, "how 
excellent is that flower in diseases of the pleurisie with 
similar surfeits hath been sufficiently experienced." 

It is further called Blindy Buff, Blind Eyes, Head- 
warke, and Headache, from the stupefying effects of 
smelling it. Apothecaries make a syrup of a splendid 
deep colour from its vividly red petals ; but this does 
not exercise any soporific action like that concocted from 
the white Poppy, which is a sort of modified opiate, 
suitable for infants under certain conditions, when 
sanctioned by a doctor. Otherwise, all sedatives of a 
narcotic sort are to be strongly condemned for use by 
mothers, or nurses : — 

" But a child that bids the world ' Good-night ' 

In downright earnest, and cuts it quite, 
(A cherub no art can copy), 

'Tis a perfect picture to see him lie, 

As if he had supped on dormouse pie, 

An ancient classical dish, by-the-bye. 

With a sauce of syrup of Poppy." 

Petronius, in the time of Nero, A.D. 80, " delivered 
an odd receipt for dressing dormouse sausages, and 
serving them up with Poppies and honey, which must 
have been a very soporiferous dainty, and as good as 
owl pye to such as want a nap after dinner." 

The white Poppy is specially cultivated in Britain for 
the sake of its seed capsules, which possess attributes 
similar to opium, but of a weaker strength. These 
capsules are commonly known as Poppyheads, obtained 
from the druggist for use in domestic fomentations to 
allay pain. Also from the capsules, without their seeds, 
is made the customary syrup of White Poppies, which is 
so familiar as a sedative for childhood ; but it should be 
always remembered that infants of tender years are 
highly susceptible to the influence even of this mild form 



of opium. The true gum opium, and laudanum, which 
is its tincture, are derived from Eastern Poppies {Papaver 
somnifenim) by incisions made in the capsules at a 
proper season of the year. The cultivated Poppy of the 
garden will afford English opium in a like manner, 
but it is seldom used for this purpose. A milky juice 
exudes when the capsules of these cultivated flowers are 
cut, or bruised. They are familiar to most children as 
drumsticks, plucked in the garden after the gaudy petals 
of the flowers have fallen ofl*. The leaves and stems 
likewise afford some of the same juice, which, when 
inspissated, is known as English opium. The seeds of 
the white Poppy yield by expression a bland nutritive 
oil, which may be substituted for that of olives, or 
sweet almonds, in cooking, and for similar uses. Dried 
Poppy-heads, formerly in constant request for making 
hot soothing stupes, or for application directly to a part 
in pain, are now superseded for the most part by the 
many modern liquid preparations of opium handy for 
the purpose, to be mixed with hot water, or applied in 

For outward use laudanum may be safely added to 
stupes, hot or cold, a teaspoonful being usually sufficient 
for the purpose, or perhaps two, if the pain is severe ; 
and powdered opium may be incorporated with one or 
another ointment for a similar object. If a decoction 
of Poppy capsules is still preferred, it should be made 
by adding to a quarter-of-a-pound of white Poppy heads 
(free from seeds, and broken up in a mortar) three pints 
of boiling water ; then boil for ten or fifteen minutes, 
and strain off the decoction, which should measure 
about two pints. 

Dr. Herbert Snow, resident physician at the Bromp- 
ton Cancer Hospital, says (1895) he has found : "after a 



long experience, Opium exhibits a strong inhibitive 
influence on the cancer elements, retarding and checking 
the cell growth, which is a main feature of the disease. 
Even when no surgical operation has been performed, 
Opium is the only drug which markedly checks cancer 
growth : and the early employment of this medicine will 
usually add years of comfortable life to the otherwise 
shortened space of the sufferer's existence." Opium gets 
its name from the Greek wpos, juice. 

The seeds of the white Poppy are known as mawseed, 
or balewort, and are given as food to singing birds. In 
old Egypt these seeds were mixed with flour and honey, 
and made into cakes. 

Pliny says : " The rustical peasants of Greece glazed 
the upper crust of their loaves with yolks of eggs, and 
then bestrewed them with Poppy seeds," thus showing 
that the seeds were then considered free from narcotic 
properties. And in Queen Elizabeth's time these seeds 
were strewn over confectionery, whilst the oil expressed 
from them was "delightful to be eaten when taken 
with bread." 

White Poppy capsules, when dried, furnish papaverine 
and narcotine, with some mucilage, and a little waxy 
matter. The seeds contained within the capsules yield 
Poppy seed oil, with a fixed oil, and a very small quan- 
tity of morphia —about five grains in a pound of white 
Poppy seeds. In some parts of Russia the seeds are 
put into soups. 

The Poppy Avas cultivated by the Greeks before the 
time of Hippocrates. It has long been a symbol of 
death, because sending persons to sleep. Ovid says, 
concerning the Cave of Somnus : — 

" Around whose entry nodding Poppies grow, 
And all cool Simples that sweet rest bestow." 



The common scarlet Poppy was called by the Anglo- 
Saxons " Chesebolle," "Chebole," or " Chybolle," from 
the ripe capsule resembling a round cheese. 

There is a Welsh Poppy, with yellow flowers ; and a 
horned Poppy, named after Glaucus, common on our sea 
coasts, with sea-green leaves, and large blossoms of 
golden yellow. Glaucus, a fisherman of Boeotia, 
observed that all the fishes which he caught received 
fresh vigour when laid on the ground, and were 
immediately able to leap back into the sea. He attri- 
buted these eff'ects to some herb growing in the grass, 
and upon tasting tlie leaves of the Sea Poppy he found 
himself suddenly moved with an intense desire to live 
in the sea; wherefore he was made a sea-god by Oceanus 
and Tethys. Borlase says : " That in the Scilly 
Islands the root of the Sea Poppy is so much valued for 
removing all pains in the breast, stomach, and intestines, 
as well as so good for disordered lungs, whilst so much 
better there than in other places, that the apothecaries 
of Cornwall send thither for it ; and some persons plant 
these roots in their gardens in Cornwall, and will not 
part with them under sixpence a root." The scarlet 
petals of the wild Poppy, very abundant in English corn- 
fields, when treated with sulphuric acid make a splendid 
red dye. With gorgeous tapestry cut from these 
crimson petals, the clever "drapery bee" (Apisjnipaveris) 
upholsters the walls of her solitary cell. Bruised leaves 
of the wild, or the garden Poppy, if applied to a part 
which has been stung by a bee or a wasp, will give 
prompt relief. 


Our invaluable Potato, which enters so largely into the 
dietary of all classes, belongs to the Nightshade tribe of 



dangerous plants, though termed " solanaceous " as a 
natural order because of the sedative properties which 
its several genera exercise to lull pain. 

This Potato, the Solanum tuberosum, is so universally 
known as a plant that it needs no particular description. 
It is a native of Peru, and was imported in 1586 by 
Thomas Heriot, ma.thematician and colonist, being after- 
wards taken to Ireland from Virginia by Sir Walter 
Ealeigh, and passing from thence over into Lancashire. 
He knew so little of its use that he tried to eat the fruit, 
or poisonous berries, of the plant. These of course 
proved noxious, and he ordered the new comers to be 
rooted out. The gardener obeyed, and in doing so first 
learnt the value of their underground wholesome tubers. 
But not until the middle of the eighteenth century, were 
they common in this country as an edible vegetable. 
"During 1629," says Parkinson, "the Potato from Vir- 
ginia was roasted under the embers, peeled and sliced : 
the tubers were put into sack with a little sugar, or were 
baked with cream, marrow, sugar, spice, etc., in pies, or 
preserved and candied by the comfit makers." But he 
most probably refers here to the Batatas, or sweet 
Potato, a Convolvulus, which was a popular esculent 
vegetable at that date, of tropical origin, and to which 
our Potato has since been thought to bear a resem- 

This Batatas, or sweet Potato, had the reputation, 
like Eringo root, of being able to restore decayed vigour, 
and so FalstafF is made by Shakespeare to say : " Let 
the sky rain potatoes, hail kissing comfits, and snow 
eringoes." For a considerable while after their intro- 
duction the Potato tubers were grown only by men of 
fortune as a delicacy ; and the general cultivation of 
this vegetable was strongly opposed by the public, 



chiefly by the Puritans, because no mention of it could 
be found in the Bible. 

Also in France great opposition was offered to the re- 
cognised use of Potatoes : and it is said that Louis the 
Fifteenth, in order to bring the plant into favour, wore 
a bunch of its flowers in the button hole of his coat on 
a high festival. Later on during the Kevolution quite 
a mania prevailed for Potatoes. Crowds perambulated 
the streets of Paris shouting for " la libert6, et des 
Batatas " ; and when Louis the Sixteenth had been 
dethroned the gardens of the Tuileries were planted 
with Potatoes. Cobbett, in this country, exclaimed 
virulently against the tuber as " hogs' food," and hated 
it as fiercely as he hated tea. The stalks, leaves, and 
green berries of the plant share the narcotic and 
poisonous attributes of the nightshades to which it 
belongs ; and the part which we eat, though often 
thought to be a root, is really only an underground 
stem, which has not been acted on by light so as to 
develop any poisonous tendencies, and in which starch 
is stored up for the future use of the plant. 

The stalks, leaves, and unripe fruit yield an active 
principle apparently very powerful, which has not yet 
been fully investigated. There are two sorts of tubers, 
the red and the white. A roasted Potato takes two 
hours to digest ; a boiled one three hours and a half. 
" After the Potato," says an old proverb, " cheese." 

Chemically the Potato contains citric acid, like that 
of the lemon, which is admirable against scurvy : 
also potash, which is equally antiscorbutic, and 
phosphoric acid, yielding phosphorus in a quantity less 
only than that aff'orded by the apple, and by wheat. It 
is of the first importance that the potash salts should 
be retained by the Potato during cooking : and the 


tubers should therefore be steamed with their coats on ; 
else if peeled, and then steamed, they lose respectively 
seven and five per cent, of potash, and phosphoric acid. 
If boiled after peeling they lose as much as thirty-three 
per cent, of potash, and twenty -three per cent, of phos- 
phoric acid. 

" The roots " says Gerard, " were forbidden in Bur- 
gundy, for that they were persuaded the too frequt-nt 
use of them causeth the leprosie." Nevertheless it is 
now believed that the Potato has had much to do with 
expelling leprosy from England. The affliction has 
become confined to countries where the Potato is 
not grown. 

Boiled or steamed Potatoes should turn out floury, or 
mealy, by reason of the starch granules swelling up 
and filling the cellular tissue, whilst absorbing the 
albuminous contents of its cells. Then the albumen 
coagulates, and forms irregular fibres between the starch 
grains. The most active part of the tuber lies just 
beneath the skin, as may be shown by pouring some 
tincture of guaiacum over the cut surface of a Potato, 
when a ring of blue forms close to the skin, and is 
darkest there while extending over the whole cut 
surface. Abroad there is a belief the Potato thrives 
best if planted on Maundy Thursday. Rustic names 
for it are : Taiders, Taities, Leather Coats, Leather 
Jackets, Lapstones, Pinks, No Eyes, Flukes, Blue Eyes, 
Red Eyes, and Murphies ; in Lancashire Potatoes are 
called Spruds, and small Potatoes, Sprots. 

The peel or rind of the tuber contains a poisonous 
substance called " solanin," which is dissipated and 
rendered inert when the whole Potato is boiled, or 
steamed. Stupes of hot Potato water are very service- 
able in some forms of rheumatism. To make the decoc- 



tion for this purpose, boil one pound of Potatoes (not 
peeled, and divided into quarters,) in two pints of water 
slowly down to one pint ; then foment the swollen and 
painful parts with this as hot as it can be borne. 
Similarly some of the fresh stalks of the plant, and its 
unripe berries, as well as the unpeeled tubers cut up as 
described, if infused for some hours in cold water, will 
make a liquor in which the folded linen of a com- 
press may be loosely rung out, and applied most 
serviceably under waterproof tissue, or a double layer 
of dry flannel. The carriage of a small raw Potato in 
the trousers' pocket has been often found preventive of 
rheumatism in a person predisposed thereto, probably 
by reason of the sulphur, and the narcotic principles 
contained in the peel. Ladies in former times had their 
dresses supplied with special bags, or pockets, in which 
to carry one or more small raw Potatoes about their 
person for avoiding rheumatism. 

If peeled and pounded in a mortar, uncooked Potatoes 
applied cold make a very soothing cataplasm to parts 
that have been scalded, or burnt. In Derbyshire a hot 
boiled Potato is used against corns ; and for frost-bites 
the mealy flour of baked potatoes, when mixed with 
sweet oil and applied, is very healing. 

The skin of the tuber contains cork// wood which 
swells in boiling with the jackets on, and which thus 
serves to keep in all the juices so that the digestibility 
of the Potato is increased ; at the same time water is 
prevented from entering and spoiling the flavour of the 
vegetable. The proportion of muscle forming food 
(nitrogen) in the Potato is very small, and it takes ten 
and a half pounds of the tubers to equal one pound of 
butcher's meat in nutritive value. 

The Potato is composed mainly of starch, which 



affords animal heat and promotes fatness. The Irish 
think that these tubers foster fertility; they prefer 
them with the jackets on, and somewhat hard in the 
middle — " with the bones in." A potato pie is believed 
to invigorate the sexual functions. 

New Potatoes contain as yet no citric acid, and are 
hard of digestion, like sour crude apples ; their nutri- 
ment, as Gerard says, " is sadly windy," the starch being- 
immature, and not readily acted on by the saliva during 
mastication. " The longer I live," said shrewd Sidney 
Smith, "the more I am convinced that half the 
unhappiness in the world proceeds from a vexed 
stomach, or vicious bile : from small stoppages, or from 
food pressing in the wrong place. Old friendships may 
be destroyed by toasted cheese ; and tough salted meat 
has led a man not infrequently to suicide." 

A mature Potato yields enough citric acid even for 
commercial purposes ; and there is no better cleaner of 
silks, cottons, and woollens, than ripe Potato juice. 
But even of ripe Potatoes those that break into a watery 
meal in the boiling are always found to prove greatly 
diuretic, and to much increase the quantity of urine. 

By fermentation mature Potatoes, through their starch 
and sugar, yield a wine from which may be distilled a 
Potato spirit, and from it a volatile oil can be extracted, 
called by the Germans, Fuselol. This is nauseous, and 
causes a heavy headache, with indigestion, and biliary 
disorders together with nervous tremors. Chemically 
it is amy lie ether. 

Also when boiled with weak sulphuric acid, the Potato 
starch is changed into glucose, or grape sugar, which by 
fermentation yields alcohol : and this spirit is often sold 
under the name of British brandy. 

A luminosity strong enough to enable a bystander to 



read by its light issues from the common Potato when 
in a state of putrefaction. In Cumberland, to have 
" taities and point to dinner," is a figurative expression 
which implies scanty fare. At a time when the duty 
on salt made the condiment so dear that it was scarce 
in a household, the persons at table were fain to point 
their Potatoes at the salt cellar, and thus to cheat their 
imaginations. Carlyle asks in Sartor Hesartus about "an 
unknown condiment named ' point,' into the meaning 
of which I have vainly enquired ; the victuals potato 
and point not appearing in any European cookery book 

German ladies, at their five o'clock tea, indulge in 
Potato talk (Kartoffel gesprach) about table dainties, and 
the methods of cooking them. Men likewise, from the 
four quarters of the globe, in the days of our childhood, 
were given to hold si milar domestic conclaves, when : — 
" Mr. East made a feast, 
Mr. North laid the cloth, 
Mr. West brought his best, 
Mr. South burnt his mouth 
Eating a cold Potato." 

With pleasant skill of poetic alliteration, Sidney 
Smith wrote in ordering how to mix a sallet : — 

" Two large Potatoes passed through kitchen sieve, 
Unwonted softness to a salad give." 

And Sir Thomas Overbury wittily said about a dolt 
who took credit for the merits of his ancestors : " Like 
the Potato, all that was good about him was under- 


The Common Primrose {Primula veris) is the most 
widely known of our English wild flowers, and appears 
in the Spring as its earliest herald. 



It gets its name from the Latin primus, first, being 
named in old books and M.S. Pryme roUes, and in the 
Grete Herhall^ Primet, as shortened from Primprint. 

In North Devon it is styled the Butter Rose, and in 
the Eastern counties it is named (in common with the 
Cowslip) Paigle, Peagle, Pegyll, and Palsy plant. 

Medicinally also it possesses similar curative attri- 
butes, though in a lesser degree, to those of the Cowslip. 
Both the root and the flowers contain a volatile oil, and 
"primulin " which is identical with mannite : whilst the 
acrid principle is "saponin." Alfred Austin, Poet 
Laureate, teaches to " make healing salve with early 

Pliny speaks of the Primrose as almost a panacea : 
In aqua potam omnibus morhis mcderi ti admit. An infusion 
of the flowers has been always thought excellent against 
nervous disorders of the hysterical sort. It should be 
made with from five to ten parts of the petals to one 
hundred of water. "Primrose tea" says Gerard, "drunk 
in the month of May, is famous for curing the phrensie." 

The whole plant is sedative and antispasmodic, being 
of service by its preparations to relieve sleeplessness, 
nervous headache, and muscular rheumatism. The juice 
if sniffed up into the nostrils will provoke violent 
sneezing, and will induce a free flow of water from the 
lining membranes of the nostiils for the mitigation of 
passive headaches : though this should not be tried by 
a person of full habit with a determination of blood to 
the head. A teaspoonful of powdered dry Primrose 
root will act as an emetic. The whole herb is somewhat 

When the petals arc collected and dried they become 
of a greenish colour : whilst fresh they have a honey- 
like odour, and a sweetish taste. 


Within the last few j^ears a political significance and 
popularity have attached themselves to the Primrose 
be3^ond every other British wild flower. It arouses the 
patriotism of the large Conservative party, and enlists 
the favour of many others who thoughtlessly follow an 
attractive fashion, and who love the first fruits of early 
Spring. Botanically the Primrose has two varieties of 
fioral structure : one " pin-eyed," with a tall pistil, and 
short stamens ; the other " thrum-eyed," showing a 
rosette of tall stamens, whilst the short pistil must be 
looked for, like the great Panjandrum himself, " with a 
little round button at the top," half way down the tube. 
Darwin was the first to explain that this diversity of 
structure ensures cross fertilisation by bees and allied 
insects. Through advanced cultivation at the hands of the 
horticulturist the Primula acquires in some instances a 
noxious character. For instance, the Prininla biconica, 
which is often grown in dwelling rooms as a window 
plant, and commonly sold as such, will provoke an 
ciysipelatous vesicular eruption of a very troublesome 
and inflamed character on the hands and face of some 
persons who come in contact with the plant by manipu- 
lating it to take cuttings, or in other ways. A knowledge 
of this fact should suggest the probable usefulness of the 
said Primula, when made into a tincture, and given in 
small diluted doses thereof, to act curatively for such an 
eruption if attacking the suff'erer from idiopathic causes. 

The Latins named the Ligustrum(ourPrivet)Primrose. 
Coles says concerning it (17th century) : "This herbe is 
called Primrose ; it is good to ' Potagc.' " They also 
applied the epithet, " Prime rose " to a lady, 

The Evening Primrose {(Enofhera biennis, or odorata) is 
found in this country on sand banks in the West of 
England and Cornwall ; but it is then most probably a 



garden scape, and an alien, its native habitat being in 
Canada and the United States of America. We culti- 
vate it freely in our parterres as a brilliant, yellow, showy 
flower. It belongs to the natural order, Onagraceoi, so 
called because the food of wild asses ; and was the 
" vini venator " of Theophrastus, 350 B.C. The name 
signifies having the odour of wine, oinos and theera. 
Pliny said : " It is an herbe good as wine to make the 
heart merrie. It groweth with leaves resembling those 
of the almond tree, and beareth flowers like unto roses. 
Of such virtue is this herbe that if it be given to drink 
to the wildest beast that is, it will tame the same and 
make it gentle." The best variety of this plant is the 
Oenothera macrocarpa. 

The bark of the Evening Primrose is mucilaginous, 
and a decoction made therefrom is of service for bathing 
the skin eruptions of infants and young children. To 
answer such purpose a decoction should be made from the 
small twigs, and from the bark of the larger branches, 
retaining the leaves. This has been found further of 
use for diarrhoea associated with an irritable stomach, 
and asthma. The infusion, or the liquid extract, acts as 
a mild but efficient sedative in nervous indigestion, 
from twenty to thirty drops of the latter being given for 
a dose. The ascertained chemical principle of the plant, 
CEnotherin, is a compound body. Its flowers open in 
the evening, and last only until the next noon ; therefore 
this plant is called the "Evening Primrose," or 
"Evening Star." 

Another of the Primrose tribe, the Cyclamen, or Sow- 
bread (Fanis porcinus), is often grown in our gardens, 
and for ornamenting our rooms as a pot plant. Its 
name means (Greek) "a circle," and refers to the 
reflected corolla, or to the spiral fruit-stalks ; and again. 



from the tuber being the food of wild sAvine. Gerard 
said it was reported in his day to grow wild on the 
Welsh mountains, and on the Lincolnshire hills: but he 
failed to find it. Nevertheless it is now almost 
naturalised in some parts of the South, and East of 
England. As the petals die, the stalks roll up and 
carry the capsular berries down to the surface of the 
ground. A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the 
fresh root when floAvering. The ivy-leaved variety is 
found in England, with nodding fresh-coloured blossoms, 
and a brown intensely acrid root. Besides starch, gum, 
and pectin, it yields chemically, "cyclamin," or " artha- 
natin," with an action like " saponin," whilst the juice 
is poisonous to fish. When applied externally as a 
liniment over the bowels, it causes them to be purged. 
Gerard quaintly and suggestively declares "It is not 
good for women with childe to touch, or take this herbe, 
or to come neere unto it, or to stride over the 
where it groweth : for the natural attractive vertue 
therein contained is such that, without controversie, they 
that attempt it in manner above said, shall be delivered 
before tbeir time ; which danger and inconvenience to 
avoid, I have fastened sticks in the ground about the 
place in my garden where it groweth, and some other 
sticks also crosswaies over them, lest any woman should 
by lamentable experiment find my words to be true by 
stepping over the same. Again, the root hanged about 
women in their extreme travail with childe, causeth them 
to be delivered incontinent : and the leaves put into the 
place hath the like eftect." Inferentially a tincture of 
the plant should be good for falling and displacement of 
the womb. "Furthermore, Sowbread, being beaten, and 
made into little flat cakes, is reputed to be a good 
amorous medicine, to make one in love." 



In France, another Primula, the wild Pimpernel, 
occurs as a noxious herb, and is therefore named Mcmron. 


The Quince (Cydonia) is cultivated sparingly in our 
orchards for the sake of its highly fragrant, and strong- 
smelling fruit, which as an adjunct to apples is much 
esteemed for table uses. 

It may well be included among remedial Herbal 
Simples because of the virtues possessed by the seeds 
within the fruit. The tree is a native of Persia and 
Crete ; bearing a pear-shaped fruit, golden yellow when 
gathered, and with five cells in it, each containing 
twelve closely packed seeds. These are mucilaginous 
when unbroken, and afford the taste of bitter almonds. 

When immersed in water they swell up considerably^ 
and the mucilage will yield salts of lime with albumen. 

Bandoline is the mucilage of Quince seeds to which 
some Eau de Cologne is added : and this mixture is- 
employed for keeping the hair fixed when dressed by 
the Coiffeur. 

The mucilage of Quince seeds is soothing and protec- 
tive to an irritated or inflamed skin ; it may also be 
given internally for soreness of the lining mucous 
membranes of the stomach and bowels, as in gastric 
catarrh, and for cough with a dry sore throat. One 
dram of the seeds boiled slowly in half-a-pint of fresh 
water until the liquor becomes thick, makes an excellent 
mucilage as a basis for gargles and injections ; or, one 
part of the seeds to fifty parts of rosewater, shaken 
together for half-an-hour. 

From growing at first in Cydon, now Candia, the tree 
got its name C//donia: its old English title was Melicotone;, 
and in ancient Rome it was regarded as a sacred fruit,. 


being hung upon statues in the houses of the great. 
Now we banish the tree, because of its strong pene 
trating odour, to a corner of the garden. 

Lord Bacon commended "quiddemy," a preserve of 
Quinces, for strengthening the stomach ; and old 
Fuller said of this fruit, " being not more pleasant 
to the palate than restorative to the health, they 
are accounted a great cordiall." Jam made from the 
Quince (Marmelo) first took the name of Marmalade, 
which has since passed on to other fruit conserves, 
particularly to that of the Seville Orange. In 
France the Quince is made into a compote which is 
highly praised for increasing the digestive powers of 
weakly persons. According to Plutarch Solon made a 
law that the Quince should form the invariable feast of 
the bridegroom (and some add likewise of the bride) 
before retiring to the nuptial couch. Columella said : 
"Quinces yield not only pleasure but health." The 
Greeks named the Quince " Chrysomelon," or the 
Golden Apple ; so it is asserted that the golden fruit of 
the Hesperides were Quinces, and that these tempted 
Hercules to attack their guardian dragon. Shakespeare 
makes Lady Capulet when ordering the wedding feast, 

" Gall for dates, and Quinces in the pastry." 

In Persia the fruit ripens, and is eaten there as a 
dessert delicacy which is much prized. If there be but 
a single Quince in a caravan, no one who accompanies 
it can remain unconscious of its presence. 

In Sussex at one time a popular wine was made of 
Quinces. They are astringent to stay diarrhoea ; and a 
syrup may be concocted from their juice to answer this 
purpose. For thrush and for excoriations within the 
mouth and upper throat, one drachm of the seeds should 



be boiled in eight fluid ounces of water until it acquires 
a proper demulcent mucilaginous consistence. " Simon 
Sethi writeth," says Gerard : " that the woman with 
child that eateth many Quinces during the time of her 
breeding, shall bring forth wise children, and of good 
understanding." Gerard says again: "The marmalad, 
or Cotiniat made of Quinces and sugar is good and 
profitable to strengthen the stomach that it may retain 
and keep the meat therein until it be perfectly digested. 
It also stayeth all kinds of fluxes both of the belly, and 
of other parts, and also of blood. Which cotiniat is 
made in this manner. Take four Quinces, pare them, 
cut them in pieces, and cast away the core : then put 
into every pound of Quinces a pound of sugar, and to 
every pound of sugar a pint of water. These must be 
boiled together over a still fire till they be very soft : 
next let it be strained, or rather rubbed through a 
strainer, or a hairy sieve, which is better. And then 
set it over the fire to boil again until it be stiff : and so 
box it up : and as it cooleth, put thereto a little rose 
water, and a few grains of musk mingled together, which 
will give a goodly taste to the cotiniat. This is the way 
to make marmalad." "The seed of Quinces tempered 
with water doth make a mucilage, or a thing like jelly 
which, being held in the mouth is marvellous good to 
take away the roughness of the tongue in hot burning 
fevers." Lady Lisle sent some cotiniat of Quinces to 
Henry the Eighth by her daughter Katharine. They 
were reputed a sexual stimulant. After being boiled 
and preserved in syrup. Quinces give a well known 
pleasant flavour to apple pie. As the fruit is free from 
acid, or almost so, its marmalade may be eaten by the 
goutily disposed with more impunity than that made 
with the Seville orange. An after taste suggestive of 

RADISH. 455 

garlic is left on the palate by masticating Quince mar- 

In the modern treatment of chronic dysentery the 
value of certain kinds of fresh fruit has come to be medi- 
cally recognised. Of these may be specified strawberries, 
grapes, fresh figs, and tomatoes, all of which are seed 
fruits as distinguished from stone fruit. It is essential 
that they shall be absolutely sound, and in good 
condition. Dr. Saumaurez Lacy, of Guernsey, has 
successfully practised this treatment for many years, 
and it has been recently employed by others for chronic 
dysentery, and diarrhoea, with most happy results. 


The common garden Radish (Ilaphanus sativus) is a 
Cruciferous plant, and a cultivated variety of the Horse 
Radish. It came originally from China, but has been 
grown all over Europe from time immemorial. Radishes 
were celebrated by Dioscorides and Pliny as above all 
roots whatsoever, insomuch, that in the Delphic temple 
there was a Radish of solid gold, mphanus ex auro clicatus : 
and Moschinus wrote a whole volume in their praise ; 
but Hippocrates condemned them as vitiosas, innatantes, 
ac cegre concodiles. 

Among the oblations offered to Apollo in his temple 
at Delphi, turnips were dedicated in lead, beet in 
silver, and radishes in wrought gold. The wild Radish is 
Haphanus m])]ianistrum. The garden Radish was not 
grown in England before 1548. 

Later on John Evelyn wrote in his Acetaria: "And 
indeed (besides that they decay the teeth) experience 
tells us that, as the Prince of Physicians writes, it is 
hard of digestion, inimicous to the stomach, causing 
nauseous eructations, and sometimes vomiting, though 



otherwise diuretic, and thought to repel the vapours of 
wine when the wits were at their genial club." "The 
Radish " says Gerard, " provoketh urine, and dissolveth 
cluttered sand." 

The roots, which aie the edible part, consist of a 
watery fibrous pulp, which is comparatively bland, and 
of an external skin furnished with a pungent volatile 
aromatic oil which acts as a condiment to the phlegmatic 
pulp. " Radishes are eaten with salt alone as carrying 
their pepper in them." The oil contained in the roots, 
and likewise in the seeds, is sulphuretted, and disagrees 
with persons of weak digestion. A young Radish, 
which is quickly grown and tender, will suit most 
stomachs, especially if some of the leaves are masti- 
cated together with the root ; but a Radish which is 
tough, strong, and hollow, fait penser a Vile d'Elhe : 
il revient." 

The pulp is chemically composed chiefly of nitro- 
genous substance, being fibrous and tough unless when 
the roots are young and quickly grown. On this 
account they should not be eaten when at all old and 
hard by persons of slow digestion, because apt to lodge 
in the intestines, and to become entangled in their csecal 
pouch, or in its appendix. But boiled Radishes arc 
almost equal to asparagus when served at table, pro- 
vided they have been cooked long enough to become 
tender, that is, for almost an hour. The syrup of 
Radishes is excellent for hoarseness, bronchial difficult}^ 
of breathing, whooping cough, and other complaints of 
the chest. 

For the cure of corns, if after the feet have been 
bathed, and the corns cut, a drop or two of juice be 
squeezed over the corn from the fresh pulp of a 
Radish on several consecutive days, this will wither and 



disappear. Also Radish roots sliced when fresh, and 
applied to a carbuncle Avill promote its healing. An 
old Saxon remedy against a woman's chatter was to 
" taste at night a root of Radish when fasting, and the 
chatter will not be able to harm him." In some places 
the Radish is called Rabone. 

From the fresh plant, choosing a large Spanish Radish, 
with a turnip-shaped root, and a black outer skin, and 
collected in the autumn, a medicinal tincture (H.) is 
made with spirit of wine. This tincture has proved 
beneficial in cases of bilious diarrhoea, with eructations, 
and mental depression, when a chronic cough is also 
liable to be present. Four or five drops should be 
given with a tablespoonful of cold water, twice or three 
times in the day. The Black Radish is found useful 
against whooping cough, and is employed for this 
purpose in Germany, by cutting ofi" the top, and then 
making a hole in the root. This is filled with treacle, 
or honey, and allowed to stand for a day or two ; then 
a teaspoonful of the medicinal liquid is given two or 
three times in the diiy. Roman physicians advised that 
Radishes should be eaten raw, Avith bread and salt in 
the morning before any other food. And our poet 
Thomson describes as an evening repast : — 

" A Roman meal 
Such as the mistress of the world once found 
Delicious, when her patriots of high note, 
Perhaps by moonlight at their humble doors, 
Under an ancient Oak's domestic shade, 
Enjoy'd spare feast, a Radish and an Egg." 


The Ragwort {Senecio Jacobcea) is a very common plant 
in our meadows, and moist places, closely allied to the 



Groundsel, and well known by its daisy-like flowers, but 
of a golden yellow colour, with rays in a circle surrounding 
the central receptacle, and with a strong smell of honey. 

This plant goes popularly by the name of St. James's 
wort, or Canker wort, or (near Liverpool) Flea wort, and 
in Yorkshire, Seggrum ; also Jacoby and Yellow Top. 
The term Ragwort, or Ragweed, is a corruption of 
Ragewort, as expressing its supposed stimulating effects 
on the sexual organs. For the same reason the pommes 
cVamour (Love Apples, or Tomatoes) are sometimes called 
Rage apples. The Ragwort was formerly thought to 
cure the staggers in horses, and was hence named 
Stagger wort, or because, says Dr. Prior, it was applied 
to heal freshly cut young bulls, known as Seggs, or 
Staggs. So also it was called St. James's wort, either 
because that great warrior and saint was the patron of 
horses, or because it blossoms on his day, July 25th : 
sometimes also the plant has been styled Stammer wort. 
Furthermore it possesses a distinct reputation for the 
cure of cancer, and is known as Cankerwort, being 
applied when bruised, either by itself, or combined with 

Probably the lime which the whole plant contains in 
a highly elaborated state of subdivision has fairly 
credited it with anti-cancerous powers. For just such 
a reason Sir Spencer Wells commended j^owdered egg 
shells and powdered oyster shells as efficacious in curing 
certain cases under his immediate observation of long- 
standing cancer, when steadily given for some consider- 
able time. 

A poultice made of the fresh leaves, and applied 
externally two or three times in succession " will cure, 
if ever so violent, the old ache in the hucklebone known 
as sciatica." Chemically the active principle of the 


Ragwort is " senecin," a dark resinous substance, of 
which two grains may be given twice or three times in 
the day. 

Also the tincture, made with one part of the plant to 
ten parts of spirit of wine (tenuior), may be taken in 
doses of from five to fifteen drops, with a spoonful of 
water three times in the day. 

Either form of medicine will correct monthly irregu- 
larities of women where the period is delayed, or 
difficult, or arrested by cold. It must be given steadily 
three times a day for ten days or a fortnight 
before the period becomes re-established. In suitable 
cases the Senecio not only anticipates the period, 
but also increases the quantity : and where the 
monthly time has never been established the Ragwort is 
generally found useful. 

This herb — like its congener, the common Groundsel — 
has lancinated, juicy leaves, which possess a bitter 
saline taste, and yield earthy potash salts abundantly. 
Each plant is named " Senecio " because of the grey 
woolly pappus of its seeds, which resemble the silvered 
hair of old age. In Ireland the Ragwort is dedicated to 
the fairies, and is known as the Fairies' Horse, on the 
golden blossoms of which the good little people are 
thought to gallop about at midnight. 


The Raspberry {Bubus Idceus) occurs wild plentifully in 
the woods of Scotland, where children gather the fruit 
early in summer. It is also found growing freely in 
some parts of England— as in the Sussex woods — and 
bearing berries of as good a quality as that of the culti- 
vated Raspberry, though not so large in size. 

Another name for the fruit is Framboise, which is 


a French corruption of the Dutch word 'hmmhezie, or 

Again, the Rcspis, or Kaspberry, was at one time 
commonly known in this country as Hindberry, or the 
gentler berry, as distinguished from one of a harsher 
and coarser sort, the Hartberry. "Respberry " signifies in 
the Eastern Counties of England a shoot, or sucker, 
this name being probably applied because the fruit 
grows on the young shoots of the previous year. 

Raspberry fruit is fragrant and cooling, but sugar 
improves its flavour. Like the strawberry, if eaten 
without sugar and cream, it does not undergo any 
acetous fermentation in the stomach, even with gouty 
or strumous persons. When combined with vinegar and 
sugar it makes a liqueur which, if diluted with water, is 
most useful in febrile disorders, and which is an 
excellent addition to sea stores as preventive of scurvy. 

The Latins named this shrub " the bramble of Ida," 
because it grew in abundance on that classic mountain 
where the shepherd Paris adjudged to Venus the prize 
for beauty^ — a golden apple — on which was divinely 
inscribed the words, Deiur pulchriori—^^ Let this be 
awarded to the fairest of womankind." 

The fresh leaves of the Raspberry are the favourite 
food of kids. There are red, white, yellow, and purple 
varieties of this fruit. Heat develops the richness of 
ils flavour ; and Raspberry jam is the prince of pre- 

Again, a wine can be brewed from the fermented 
juice, which is excellent against scurvy because of its 
salts of potash — the citrate and malate. 

Raspberry vinegar, made by pouring vinegar repeat- 
edly over successive quantities of the fresh fruit, is a 
capital remedy for sore throat from cold, or of the 


relaxed kind ; and when mixed with water it furnishes 
a most refreshing drink in fevers. But the berries 
should be used immediately after being gathered, as 
they quickly spoil, and their fine flavour is very evan- 
escent. The vinegar can be extemporised by diluting 
Kaspberry jelly with hot vinegar, or by mixing syrup 
of the fruit with vinegar. 

In Germany a conserve of Raspberries which has astrin- 
gent effects is concocted with two parts of sugar to one 
of juice expressed from the fruit. Besides containing 
citric and malic acids, the Raspberry affords a A^olatile 
oil of aromatic flavour, with crystallisable sugar, pectin, 
colouring matter, mucus, some mineral salts, and water. 

Gerard says : " The fruit is good to be given to them 
that have weake, and queasie stomackes." 

A playful example of the declension of a Latin sub- 
stantive is given thus : — 

" Musa, Miisa , 
The Gods were at tea : 
MiiscB, Musavi, 
Eating Raspberry jam : 
Mitsa, MusdJi, 
Made by Cupid's mamma." 

RHUBARB (Garden), see Dock, v(^ge 159. 

RiCPJ, or Ryse, the grain of Or//.- a sativa, a native cereal 
of India, is considered here scarcely as a Herbal Simple, 
but rather as a common article of some medicinal 
resource in the store cupboard of every English house- 
hold, and therefore alwaj^s at hand as a vegetable 

Among the Arabs Rice is considered a sacred food : 



and their tradition runs that it first sprang from a drop 
of Mahomet's perspiration in Paradise. 

Being composed almost exclusively of starch, and 
poorer in nitrogen, as well as in phosphoric acid, than 
other cereals, it is less laxative, and is of value as a 
demulcent to palliate irritative diarrhoea, and to allay 
intestinal distress. 

A mucilage of Rice made by boiling the well-washed 
grain for some time in water, and straining, contains 
starch and phosphate of lime in solution, and is there- 
fore a serviceable emollient. But when needed for food 
the grain should be steamed, because in boiling it loses 
the little nitrogen, and the greater part of the lime phos- 
phate which it has scantily contained. 

Rice bread and Rice cakes, simply made, are very 
light and easy of digestion. The gluten confers the 
property of rising on dough or paste made of Rice flour. 
But as an article of sustenance Rice is not well suited 
for persons of fermentative tendencies during the 
digestion of their food, because its starch is liable to 
undergo this chemical change in the stomach. 

Dr. Tytler reported in the Lancet (1833), cases resemb- 
ling malignant cholera from what he termed the morbus 
oryzceus, as provoked by the free and continued use of 
Rice as food. And Boutins, in 1769, published an 
account of the diseases common to the East Indies, in 
which he stated that when Rice is eaten more or less 
exclusively, the vision becomes impaired. But neither 
of these allegations seems to have been afterwards 
authoritatively confirmed. 

Chemically, Rice consists of starch, fat, fibrin, mineral 
matter such as phosphate of lime, cellulose, and water. 

A spirituous liquor is made in China from the grain 
of Rice, and bears the name "arrack." 



Rice cannot be properly substituted in place of succu- 
lent green vegetables dietetically for any length of time, 
or it would induce scurvy. The Indians take stewed 
Rice to cure dysentery, and a decoction of the grain for 
the purpose of subduing inflammatory disorders. 

Paddy, or Paddee, is Rice from which the husk has not 
been removed before crushing. It has been said by 
some that the cultivation of Rice lowers vitality, and 
shortens life. 

In Java a special Rice-pudding is made by first 
putting some raw Rice in a conical earthen pot wide at 
the top, and perforated in its body with holes. This is 
placed inside another earthen pot of a similar shape 
but not perforated, and containing boiling water. The 
swollen Rice soon stops up the holes of the inner pot, 
and the Rice within becomes of a firm consistence, 
like pudding, and is eaten with butter, sugar, and 

An ordinary Rice-pudding is much improved by 
adding some rosewater to it before it is baked. 

This grain has been long considered of a pectoral 
nature, and useful for persons troubled with lung 
disease, and spitting of blood, as in pulmonary con- 
sumption. The custom of throwing a shower of Rice 
after and over a newly married couple is very old, 
though wheat was at first the chosen grain as an augury 
of plenty. The bride wore a garland of ears of corn in 
the time of Henry the Eighth. 


Certain curative properties are possessed both by the 
Briar, or wild Dog Rose of our country hedges, and by 
the cultivated varieties of this queen of flowers in our 
Roseries. The word Rose means red, from the Greek 



rodon, connected also with rota, a wheel, which 
resembles the outline of a Rose. The name Briar is 
from the Latin hruariam, the waste land on which it 
grows. The first Rose, of a dark red colour, is held to 
have sprung from the blood of Adonis. The fruit of the 
wild Rose, which is so familiar to every admirer of our 
hedgerows in the summer, and Avhich is the common 
progenitor of all Roses, is named Hips. " Heps 
maketh," says Gerard, " most pleasant meats or ban- 
quetting dishes, as tarts and suchlike, the concoction 
whereof I commit to the cunning cook, and teeth to eat 
them in the rich man's mouth." 

Hips, derived from the old Saxon, h'iiipa, jupe, signi- 
fies the Briar rather than its fruit. They are called in 
some parts, " choops," or "hoops." The woolly down 
which surrounds the seeds within the Hips serves 
admirably for dispelling round worms, on which it acts 
mechanically without irritating the mucous membrane 
which lines the bowels. 

When fully ripe and softened by frost, the Hips, after 
removal of their hard seeds, and when plenty of sugar 
is added, make a very nice confection, Avhich the Swiss 
and Germans eat at dessert, and which forms an agree- 
able substitute for tomato sauce. Apothecaries employ 
this conserve in the preparing of electuaries, and as a 
basis for pills. They also officiiially use the petals 
of the Cabbage Rose {Centifolia) for making Rose water, 
and the petals of the Red Rose {Gallica) for a cooling 
infusion, the brilliant colour of which is much improved 
by adding some diluted sulphuric acid ; and of these 
petals they further direct a syrup to be concocted. 

Next in development to the Dog Rose, or Hound's 
Rose, comes the Sweetbriar (Eglantine), with a delicate 
perfume contained under its glandular leaves. " Fraf/- 



rantia ejus olei omnia alia odoramenta siqjerest." This 
(Eosa mbiginosa) grows chiefly on chalk as a bushy 
shrub. Its poetic title, Eglantine, is a corruption of the 
Latin aculeius, prickly. A legend tells that Christ's 
crown of thorns was made from the Rose-briar, about 
which it has been beautifully said : — 

" Men saw the thorns on Jesus' brow, 
But Angels saw the Roses," 

Pliny tells a remarkable story of a soldier of the 
Praetorian guard, who was cured of hydrophobia, against 
all hope, by taking an extract of the root of the 
Kunoroddon, Dog Rose, in obedience to the prayer of his 
mother, to whom the remedy was revealed in a dream ; 
and he says further, that it likewise restored whoever 
tried it afterwards. Hence came the title Canina. 
' Parceque elk a loagtemps Me en vogue pour guerir de 
la, rage'' 

But the term. Dog Rose, is generally thought to 
merely signify a flower of lower quality than the nobler 
Roses of garden culture. 

The five graceful fringed leaflets which form the 
special beauty of the Eglantine flower and bud, have 
given rise to the following Latin enigma (trans- 
lated): — 

" Of us five brothers at the same time born, 
Two from our birthday always beards have worn : 
On other two none ever have appeared, 
While our fifth brother wears but half a beard," 

From Roses the Romans prepared wine and confec- 
tions, also subtle scents, sweet-smelling oil, and 
medicines. The petals of the crimson French Rose, 
which is grown freely in our gardens, have been 
esteemed of signal efficacy in consumption of the lungs 



since the time of Avicenna, A.D. 1020, who states that 
he cured many patients by prescribing as much of the 
conserve as they could manage to swallow daily. It 
was combined with milk, or with some other light 
nutriment ; and generally from thirty to forty pounds 
of this medicine had to be consumed before the cure 
was complete. Julius Csesar hid his baldness at the age 
of thirty with Roman Roses. 

" Take," says an old MS. recipe of Lady Somerset's, 
" Red Rose buds, and clyp of the tops, and put them in 
a mortar with ye waight of double refined sugar ; beat 
them very small together, then put it up ; must rest 
three full months, stirring onces a day. This is good 
against the falling sickness." 

It is remarkable that while the blossoms of the Rose 
Order present various shades of yellow, white, and red, 
blue is altogether foreign to them, and unknown among 

As the Thistle is symbolical of Scotland, the Leek of 
Wales, and the Shamrock of Ireland : so the sweet, 
pure, simple, honest Rose of our woods is the apt-chosen 
emblem of Saint George, and the frank, bonny, blushing 
badge of Merrie England. 

The petals of the Cabbage Rose (Centifolia), which 
are closely folded over each other like the leaves of a 
cabbage, have a slight laxative action, and are used for 
making Rose-water by distillation, whether when fresh, 
or after being preserved by admixture with common 
salt. This perfumed water has long enjoyed a repu- 
tation for the cure of inflamed eyes, more commonly 
when combined with zinc, or with sugar of lead. 
Hahnemann quotes the same established practice as a 
tacit avowal that there exists in the leaves of the Rose 
some healing power for certain diseased conditions of 



the eyes, which virtue is really founded on the homoeo- 
pathic property possessed by the Rose, of exciting ii 
species of ophthalmia in healthy persons ; as was 
observed by Echtius, Ledelius, and Rau. 

It is recorded also in his Organon of Medicine, that 
persons are sometimes found to faint at the smell of 
Roses (or, as Pope puts it, to " die of a rose in aromatic 
pain ") ; whereas the Princess Maria cured her brother, 
the Emperor Alexius, who suffered from faintings, by 
sprinkling him with Rose-water, in the presence of his 
aunt Eudoxia. 

The wealthy Greeks and Romans strewed Roses on 
the tombs of departed friends, whilst poorer persons 
could only afford a tablet at the grave bearing the prayer : 

" Sparge, precor, rosas super mea busta, viator." 

" Scatter Roses, I beseech you, over my ashes, 0 pitiful 
passer-by, " 

But nowadays many persons have an aversion to 
throwing a Rose into a grave, or even letting one 
fall in. 

Roses and reticence of speech have been linked 
together since the time of Harpocrates, whom Cupid 
})ribed to silence by the gift of a golden Rose-bud ; and 
therefore it became customary at Roman feasts to 
suspend over the table a flower of this kind as a hint 
that the convivial sayings which were then inter- 
changed were not to be talked of outside. What was 
spoken " sub vino " was not to be published " sub 

" Est rosa flos veneris, cujus quo facta laterent 
Harpocrati , matris dona, dicavit amor ; 
Inde rosam mensis hospes suspendit amicis. 
Con viva ut sub ea dicta tacenda sciat." 



For the same reason the Rose is found sculptured on 
the ceilings of banqueting rooms ; and in 1526 it began 
to be placed over Confessionals. Thus it has come about 
that the Rose is held to be the symbol of secrecy, as 
well as the flower of love, and the emblem of beauty : 
so that the significant phrase " sub rosa," — under the 
Rose, — conveys a recognised meaning, understood, and 
respected by everyone. The bed of Roses is not 
altogether a poetic fiction. In old days the Sybarites 
slept upon mattresses which were stuffed with Rose 
petals : and the like are now made for persons of rank 
on the Nile. 

A memorial brass over the tomb of Abbot Kirton, in 
Westminster Abbey, bears testimony to the high value 
he attached during life to Roses curatively : — 

" Sis, Rosa, flos llorum, morbis medicina raeorum." 

Many country persons believe, that if Roses and 
Violets are plentiful in the autumn, some epidemic may 
be expected presently. But this conclusion must be 
founded like that which says, "a green winter makes a 
fat churchyard," on the fact that humid warmth con- 
tinued on late in the year tends to engender putrid 
ferments, and to weaken the bodily vigour. 

Attar of Roses is a costly product, because consisting 
of the comparatively few oil globules found floating on 
the surface of a considerable volume of Rose water 
thrice distilled. It takes five hundredweight of Rose 
petals to produce one drachm by weight of the finest 
Attar, which is preserved in small bottles made of rock 
crystal. The scent of the minutest particle of the 
genuine essence is very powerful and enduring : — 

" You may break, you may ruin, the vase if you will, 
But tbe scent of the Roses will hang round it still." 



The inscription, Bosamundi, non Rosa munda, was 
graven on the tomb of fair Rosamund, the inamorata 
of Henry the Seventh : — 

" Hie jacet in tomba Rosa Mundi, non Rosa munda ; 

Non redolet, sed olet quse redolere solet." 
" Here Rose the graced, not Rose the chaste, reposes ; 

The smell that rises is no smell of Roses." 

In Sussex, the peculiar excrescence which is often 
found on the Briar, as caused by the puncture of an 
insect, and which is known as the canker, or " robin 
redbreast's cushion," is frequentl}^ worn round the neck 
as a protective amulet against whooping cough. This 
was called in the old Pharmacopeias " Bedeguar," and 
was famous for its astringent properties. Hans Andersen 
names it the " Kose King's beard." 

The Rosary was introduced by St. Dominick to 
commemorate his having been shown a chaplet of Roses 
by the Blessed Virgin. It consisted formerly of a string 
of beads made of Rose leaves tightly pressed into round 
moulds and strung together, when real Roses could not 
be had. The use of a chaplet of beads for recording 
the number of prayers recited is of Eastern origin from 
the time of the Egyptian Anchorites. 

The Rock Rose (a Cistus), grows commonly in our 
hilly pastures on a soil of chalk, or gravel, bearing- 
clusters of large, bright, yellow flowers, from a small 
branching shrub. These flowers expand only in the 
sunshine, and have stamens which, if lightly touched, 
spread out, and lie down on the petals. The plant 
proves medicinally useful, particularly if grown in a soil 
containing magnesia. A tincture is prepared (H.) from 
the whole plant, English or Canadian, which is useful 
for curing shingles, on the principle of its producing, 
when taken by healthy provers in doses of various 


potencies, a cutaneous outbreak on the trunk of the 
body closely resembling the characteristic symptoms of 
shingles, whilst attended with nervous distress, and with 
much burning of the affected skin. The plant has like- 
wise a popular reputation for healing scrofula, and its 
tincture is beneficial for reducing enlarged glands, as of 
the neck and throat ; also for strumous swelling of the 
knee joint, as well as of other joints. It is a " helian- 
themum " of the Sunflower tribe. 

The Canadian Rock Rose is called Frostwort and 
Frostweed, because crystals of ice shoot from the 
cracked bark below the stem during freezing weather 
in the autumn. 

A decoction of our plant has proved useful in prurigo 
(itching), and as a gargle for the sore throat of scarlet 
fever. For shingles, from five to ten drops of the 
tincture, third decimal strength, should be given with a 
spoonful of water three times a day. 


The Rosemary is a well-known, sweet-scented shrub, 
cultivated in our gardens, and herb beds on account of 
its fragrancy and its aromatic virtues. It came originally 
from the South of Europe and the Levant, and was 
introduced into England before the Norman Conquest, 
The shrub {Rosmarinus) takes its compound name from 
ros, dew, marinus, belonging to the sea ; in allusion to 
the grey, glistening appearance of the plant, and its 
natural locality, as well as its odour, like that of the sea. 
It is ever green, and bears small, pale, blue flowers. 

Rosemary was thought by the ancients to refresh the 
memory and comfort the brain. Being a cordial herb 
it was often mentioned in the lays, or amorous ballads, 
of the Troubadours ; and was called " Coronaria " 



because women were accustomed to make crowns and 
garlands thereof. 

" What flower is that which regal honour craves ? 
Adjoin the Virgin : and 'tis strewn o'er graves." 

In some parts of England Rosemary is put with the 
corpse into the coffin, and sprigs of it are distributed 
among the mourners at a funeral, to be thrown into the 
grave. Gay alludes to this practice when describing the 
burial of a country lass who had met with an untimely 
death : — 

" To show their love, the neighbours far and near 
Followed, with wistful looks, the damsel's bier ; 
Sprigged Rosemary the lads and lasses bore, 
While dismally the Parson walked before ; 
Upon her grave the Rosemary they threw, 
The Daisy, Butter flower, and Endive blue.'' 

In Romeo and Juliet^ Father Lawrence says : — 

" Dry up your tears, and stick your Rosemary 
On this fair corse." 

The herb has a pleasant scent and a bitter, pungent 
taste, whilst much of its volatile, active principle resides 
in the calices of the flowers; therefore, in storing or using 
the plant these parts must be retained. It yields its 
virtues partially to water, and entirely to rectified 
spirit of wine. 

In early times Eosemary was grown largely in kitchen 
gardens, and it came to signify the strong influence of 
the matron who dwelt there : — 

" Where Rosemary flourishes the woman rules." 

The leaves and tops afford an essential volatile oil, 
but not so much as the flowers. 

A spirit made from this essential oil with spirit of 
wine will help to renovate the vitality of paralyzed 
limbs, if rubbed in with brisk friction. The volatile oil 



includes a special camphor similar to that possessed by 
the myrtle. The plant also contains some tannin, with 
a resin and a bitter principle. By old writers it was 
said to increase the flow of milk. 

The oil is used ofhcinally for making a spirit of 
Rosemary, and is added to the compound tincture of 
Lavender, as well as to Soap liniment. By common 
consent it is agreed that the volatile oil (or the 
spirit) when mixed in washes will specially stimulate 
growth of the hair. The famous Hungary water, first 
concocted for a Queen of Hungary who, by its continual 
use, became eff'ectually cured of paralysis, was prepared 
by putting a pound and a half of the fresh tops of 
Rosemary, when in full flower, into a gallon of proof 
spirit, which had to stand for four days, and was then 

Hungary water {Veau de la reine (VHongrie) was 
formerly very famous for gout in the hands and feet. 
Hoyes says, the formula for composing this water, 
written by Queen Elizabeth's own hand in golden 
characters, is still preserved in the Imperial Library at 

An ounce of the dried leaves and flowers treated with 
a pint of boiling water, and allowed to stand until cold, 
makes one of the best hair washes known. It has the 
singular power of preventing the hair from uncurling 
when exposed to a damp atmosphere. The herb is used 
in the preparation of Eau de Cologne. 

Rosemary wine, taken in small quantities, acts as a 
quieting cordial to a heart of which the action is excit- 
able or palpitating, and it relieves any accompanying 
dropsy by stimulating the kidneys. This wine may be 
made by chopping up sprigs of Rosemary, and pouring 
on them some sound white wine, which after two or 



three days, may be strained off and used. By stimu- 
lating the nervous system it proves useful against the 
headaches of weak circulation and of languid health- 
" If a garlande of the tree be put around the heade it is 
a remedy for the stuffing of the head that cometh from 

The green-leaved variety of Kosemary is the sort to 
be used medicinally. There are also silver and gold- 
leaved diversities. Sprigs of the herb were formerly 
stuck into beef whilst roasting as an excellent relish. 
A writer of 1707 tells of " Eosemary -preserve to dress 
your beef." 

The toilet of the Ancients was never considered 
complete without an infusion, or spirit of Rosemary ; 
and in olden times Rosemary was entwined in the 
wreath worn by the bride at the altar, being first dipped 
in scented water. Anne of Cleves, one of Henry the 
Eighth's wives, wore such a wreath at her wedding ; and 
when people could afford it, the Rosemary branch 
presented to each guest was richly gilded. 

The custom which prevailed in olden times of carry- 
ing a sprig of Rosemary in the hand at a funeral, took 
its rise from the notion of an alexipharmick or preser- 
vative powder in this herb against pestilential disorders j 
and hence it was thought that the smelling thereof was 
a powerful defence against any morbid effluvia from 
the corpse. 

For the same reason it was usual to burn Rosemary 
in the chambers of the sick, just as was formerly done 
with frankincense, which gave the Greeks occasion to 
call the Rosemary Libanotis. In the French language of 
flowers this herb represents the power of rekindling lost 
energy. "The flowers of Rosemary," says an old 
author, " made up into plates (lozenges), with sugar. 



and eaten, comfort the heart, and make it merry, 
quicken the spirits, and make them more lively." 
" There's Rosemary for you — that's for remembrance ! 
Pray you, love, remember ! " says Ophelia in Hamlet. 
The spirit of Rosemary is kept by all druggists, and 
may be safelj^ taken in doses of from twenty to thirty 
drops with a spoonful or two of water. Rosemary tea 
will soon relieve hysterical depression. Some persons 
drink it as a restorative at breakfast. It will help to 
regulate the monthly flow of women. An infusion of 
the herb mixed with poplar bark, and used every night, 
will make the hair soft, glossy, and strong. 

In Northern Ireland is found the AVild Rosemary, or 
Marsh Tea (Ledum palnstre), which has admirable cura- 
tive uses, and from which, therefore, though it is not a 
common plant in England, a medicinal tincture (H.) is 
made with spirit of Avine. 

The herb belongs to the Rock Rose tribe, and con- 
tains citric acid, leditannic acid, resin, wax, and a 
volatile principle called " ericinol.'^ 

This plant is of singular use as a remedy for chil- 
blains, as well as to subdue the painful effects of a sting 
from a wasp or bee ; also to relieve gouty pains, which 
attack severely, but do not cause swelling of the part, 
especially as regards the fingers and toes. Four or five 
drops of the tincture should be taken for a dose with a 
tablespoonful of cold water, three or four times in the 
day ; and linen rags soaked in a lotion made with a 
teaspoonful of the tincture added to half a tumblerful of 
cold water, should be kept applied over the aftected part. 

It equally relieves whitlows ; and will heal punctured 
wounds, if arnica, or the Marigold, or St. John's Wort 
is not indicated, or of use. When tested by provers in 
large doses, it has caused a widespread eruption of 



eczema, with itching and tingling of the whole skin, 
extending into the mouth and air passages, and occasion- 
ing a violent spasmodic cough. Hence, one may fairly 
assume (and this has been found to hold good), that a 
gouty, spasmodic cough of the bronchial tubes, attended 
with gouty eczema, and with pains in the smaller joints, 
will be generally cured by tincture or infusion of the 
Wild Rosemary in small doses of a diluted strength, 
given several times a day, the diet at the same time 
being properly regulated. Formerly this herb was used 
in Germany for making beer heady ; but it is now 
forbidden by law. 


The wild Eue is found on the hills of Lancashire and 
Yorkshire, being more vehement in smell and in opera- 
tion than the garden Rue. This latter, lluta graveolens, 
(powerfully redolent), the common cultivated Rue of 
our kitchen gardens, is a shrub with a pungent aromatic 
odour, and a bitter, hot, penetrating taste, having leaves 
of a bluish-green colour, and remaining verdant all the 
year round. It is first mentioned as cultivated in 
England by Turner, in his Herbal, 1562, and has since 
become one of the best known and most widely grown 
Simples for medicinal and homely uses. The name Buta 
is from the Greek reuo, to set free, because this herb is 
so efficacious in various diseases. The Greeks regarded 
Rue as an anti-magical herb, since it served to remedy 
the nervous indigestion and flatulence from which they 
suffered when eating before strangers : which infirmity 
they attributed to witchcraft. This herb was further 
termed of old " Serving men's joy," because of the 
multiplicitjr of common ailments which it was warranted 
to cure. It constituted a chief ingredient of the famous 
antidote of Mithridates to poisons, the formula of which 



was found by Pompey in the satchel of the conquered 
King. The leaves are so acrid, that if they be much 
handled they inflame the skin ; and the wild plant 
possesses this acridity still more strongly. 

Water serves to extract the virtues of the cultivated 
shrub better than spirit of wine is able to do. The 
juice of Rue is of great efficacy in some forms of 
epilepsy, operating for the most part insensibly, though 
sometimes causing vomiting or purging. 

Piperno, a Neapolitan physician, in 1625, commended 
Kue as a specific against epilepsy and vertigo. For the 
former malady at one time some of this herb was 
suspended round the neck of the sufferer, whilst 
"forsaking the devil with all his works, and invoking 
the Lord Jesus." Goat's Rue, Galega, is likewise of 
service in epilepsy and convulsions. 

If a leaf or two of Kue be chewed, a refreshing 
aromatic flavour will pervade the mouth, and any nervous 
headache, giddiness, hysterical spasm, or palpitation, 
will be quickly relieved. Two drachms of powdered 
Rue, if taken every day regularly as a dose for a long 
while together, will often do wonders. It was much 
used by the ancients, and Hippocrates commended it. 
The herb is strongly stimulatnig and anti-spasmodic ; 
its most important constituent being the volatile oil, 
which contains caprinic, pelargonic, caprylic, and oenan- 
thylic acids. The oxygenated portion is caprinic 
aldehyde. In too full doses the oil causes aching of 
the loins, frequent urination, dulness and weight of 
mind, flushes of heat, unsteadiness of gait, and increased 
frequency of the pulse, but with diminished force. 
Similar symptoms are produced during an attack of the 
modern epidemical influenza ; as like-wise by oil of 
wormwood, and some other essential oils. 



Externally, Rue is an active irritant to the skin, the 
bruised leaves blistering the hands, and causing a 
pustular eruption. Gerard sajs, "The wild Rue 
venometh the hands that touch it, and will also infect 
the face ; therefore it is not to be admitted to meat, or 
medicine." It stimulates the monthly function in women, 
but must be used with caution. 

The decoction and infusion are to be made from the 
fresh plant, or (when this plant cannot be got), the oil 
may be given in a dose of from one to five drops. 
Externally, compresses saturated with a sti-ong decoction 
of the plant when applied to the chest, have been used 
beneficially for chronic bronchitis. 

Rue is best adapted to those of phlegmatic habit, and 
of languid constitutional energies. It is often employed 
in the form of tea. The ScJiola Salernitana says aljout 
this plant : — 

" Ruta viris minuit veneiem, mulieribus addit 
Euta facit castum, dat lumen, et ingerit astum 
Coctaque ruta facit de pulicibus loca tuta." 

"Rue maketh chaste : and eke preservetli sight ; 
Infuseth wit, and putteth fleas to flight." 

The leaves promote the menses, being given in doses 
of from fifteen to twenty grains. "Pliny," says John 
Evelyn, "reports Rue to be of such effect for the pre- 
servation of sight that the painters of his time used to 
devour a great quantity of it ; and the herb is still 
eaten b}^ the Italians frequently mingled amongst their 
salads." With respect to its use in epilepsy, Julius 
Caesar Baricellus said : " I gave to my own children 
two scruples of the juice of Rue, and a small matter 
of gold ; and, by the blessing of God, they were freed 
from their fits." The essential oil of Rue may be used 
for the same purpose, and in like manner. 



Formerly this plant was thought to bestow second 
sight ; and so sacred a regard was at one time felt for 
it in our islands, that the missionaries sprinkled their 
holy water from brushes made of the Rue ; for which 
cause it was named " Herb of Grace." 

Gerard tells us: "The garden Kue, which is better 
than the wild Rue for physic's use, grows most profit- 
ably (as Dioscorides said) under a fig tree." Country peo- 
ple boil its leaves with treacle, thus making a conserve 
of them. These leaves are curative of croup in poultry. 

In the early part of the present century it was cus- 
tomary for judges, sitting at Assize, to have sprigs of 
Rue placed on the bench of the dock, as defensive 
against the pestilential infection brought into court 
from gaol by the prisoners. The herb was supposed 
to afford powerful protection from contagion. 

At the present time the medicinal tincture (H.) is used 
for the treatment of rheumatism when developed in 
the membranes which invest the bones. 

If bruised and applied, the leaves will ease the 
severe pain of sciatica. The expressed juice taken in 
small quantities is a noted remedy for nervous night- 
mare. A quaint old rhyme says of the plant : — 

" Nobilis est ruta quia lumina reddit acuta." 
" Noble is Kue ! it makes the sight of eyes both sharp and clear ; 
With help of Rue, oh! blear-eyed man! thou shalt see far 
and near." 

This is essentially the case when the vision has 
become dim through over exertion of the eyes. It was 
with " Euphrasy and Rue " the visual nerve of Adam 
was purged by Milton's Angel. 

As a preserver of chastity Ophelia was made by 
Shakespeare to give Rue to Hamlet's mother, the 
Queen of Denmark. 




Thp] true Rushes {Jimcacem) include the Soft Kush 
{ejfusiis) ; the Hard Rush (glaucus); and the Common Rush 
(conglomeratus). The Bulrush (Pool Rush) is a Sedge ; the 
Club Rush is a Typha ; and the flowering Rush, a 
Butomus. "Rish" was the old method of spelling 
the name. 

A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root 
of the jmicus eff'usus. It will be found helpful against 
spinal irritability, with some crampy tightness felt in 
the arms and legs, together with headache and flatulent 
indigestion. Four or five drops should be given for a 
dose, with a spoonful of water, three or four times in 
the day. 

This, the Soft Rush, is commonly used for tying the 
bines of hops to the poles ; and, as these bines grow 
larger in size, the rushes wither, setting the bines free 
in a timely fashion. To find a green-topped Seave, or 
Rush, and a four-leaved Clover, is, in rural estimation, 
equally lucky. 

The generic title, Juticus, has been applied because 
Rushes are m conjunction when plaited together for 
making cordage. 

The common Rush is found by roadsides in damp 
pastures, and is readily known by its long, slender, 
round, naked stem, containing pith, and showing about 
the middle of July a dense globular head of brown 
Howers. Rushes of this sort were employed by our 
remote ancestors for strewing, when fresh and green, 
about the floor of the hall after discontinuing its big 
fire at Eastertide. Shakespeare says in liomeo and 
Juliet : — 

" Wantons, light of lieart, 
Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels." 



In obedience to a bequest (1494), Rushes are 
still strewn about the pavement of Eedcliff Church 
at Bristol every Whit-Sunday. The common phrase, 
" not worth a Rush," took its origin from this general 
practice. Distinguished guests were honoured in 
mediaeval times with clean fresh Rushes ; but those 
of inferior rank had either the Rushes left by their 
superiors, or none at all. 

The sweet-scented "Flag," or Rush {Aroru-> calamus), 
was always used by preference when it could be 
procured. It is a native of this country, growing on 
watery banks, and very plentiful in the rivers of 
Norfolk, from whence the London market is supplied. 
The roots have a warm, bittei' taste, and the essential 
oil is highly aromatic, this being used for preparing 
aromatic vinegar. In Norfolk the powdered dry rhi- 
zome is given for ague. With sugar it makes an agree- 
able cordial conserve. (See Flag (Sweet), page 201). For 
preserving the aromatic qualities within the dried 
rhizome, or root, it should be kept in stock unpeeled. 
This contains "oleum calami," and the bitter principle 
" acorin." Some of the root may be habitually chewed 
for the relief of chronic indigestion. The odorous 
delights of a pastoral time passed near these sweetly- 
fragrant plants have been happily alluded to in the 
well-known lines of idyllic verse : — 

" Green grow the Rushes, oh ! 
Green grow the Rushes, oh ! 
The sweetest hours that e'er I spent 
Were spent among the lasses, oh !" 

" Virent junci fluviales, 
J unci prope lymph as : 
Ah ! quam ridet quoe me videt 
liora inter Nyniphas ! " 



The old saying, " As fit as Tib's Kusli for Tom's fore- 
finger," alludes to an ancient custom of making spurious 
marriages with a ring constructed from a Kush. Tom 
and Tib were vulgar epithets applied in Shakespeare's 
time to the rogue, and the wanton. 

The Bulrush (Scirpas lacustris) is a tall, aquatic plant, 
which belongs to the Sedge tribe. It name was formerly 
spelt " Pole Kush," and was given because this grows in 
pools of water, and not like other Kushes, in mire. 
Bottoms of chairs are frequently made with its stems. 
Its seed is prepared medicinally, being astringent and 
somewhat sedative ; "So soporiferous," says Gerard, 
" that care must be had in the administration thereof, 
lest in provoking sleep you induce a drowsiness, or 
dead sleep." Street hawkers, in Autumn, offer as 
Bulrushes the tall, round spikes of the Great Reed Mace, 
which is not a true Rush. Artists are responsible in 
the first instance for the mistake — notabl}^ Paul 
De la Roche, in his famous picture of " The Finding of 
Moses." The future great leader of the Israelites is 
there depicted in an ark amid a forest of Great Cat's-tail 

The flowering Rush, or water gladiole, which grows 
by the banks of rivers is called botanically " butomus," 
from the Greek, hous, an ox, and teinno, to cut, because 
the sharp edges of the erect three-cornered leaf-blades 
wound the cattle which come in contact with them, or 
try to eat them. Its root is highly esteemed in Russia 
for the cure of hydrophobia, being regarded by the 
doctors as a specific for that disease. Its flowers are 
large, and of a splendid rose colour. The seeds promote 
the monthly flow in women, act on disordered kidneys, 
prove astringent against fluxes, and serve to woo sleep 
in nervous wakefulness. Gerard tells that " the seed 




of Rushes drielh t.he overmuch flowing of women's 

The Reed Mace, or Cat's-tail, is often incorrectly 
called Bulrush, though it is a typha (/^ij^Ao.s, marsh) plant. 

The Bog Asphodel {Narthecium ossifragnm) grows in 
bogs, and bears a spike of yellow, star-like flowers. Its 
second nominative was given to signify its causing the 
bones of cattle which feed thereon to become soft ; but 
probably this morbid state is incurred rather through 
the exhalations arising from the bogs where the cattle 
are pastured. To the same plant has been given also 
the name " Mayden heere," because young damsels 
formerly used it for making their hair yellow. 

The Great Cat's-tail {Typha palustris\ or Great Reed 
Mace, a perennial reed common in Great Britain, affords 
by the tender white part of its stalks when peeled near 
the root, a crisp, cooling, pleasant article of food. This 
is eaten raw with avidity by the Cossacks. Aristophanes 
makes mention of the Mace in his comedy of frogs who 
were glad to have spent their day skipping about inter 
Cyperum et Phleuin, among Galingale and Cat's-tail. 
Sacred pictures which represent our Saviour wearing 
the crown of thorns, place this reed in His hands as given 
Him in mockery for a kingly Mace. The same Typlia has 
been further called "Dunse-down," from making persons 
" dunch," or deaf, if its soft spikes accidentally run into 
the ears. Ejus eiiivi paniciUce flos si aures iiitraverit, 
exsurdaty It is reasonable to suppose that, on the 
principle of similars, a preparation of this plant, if 
applied topically within the ear, as well as taken medi- 
cinally, will be curative of a like deafness. Most 
probably the injury to the hearing caused by the spikes 
at first is toxic as well as of the nature of an injury. 
The Poet Laureate sings of "Sleepy breath made sweet 



with Galingale " {Cypems longus). Other names again 
are, "Chimney-sweeper's brush"; "Blackheads" until 
ripe, then " Whiteheads " ; and " Water torch," because 
its panicles, if soaked in oil, will burn like a torch. 

SAFFRON (Meadow and Cultivated). 

The Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autiimnale) is a common 
wild Crocus found in English meadows, especially about 
the Midland districts. The flower appears in the 
autumn before the leaves and fruit, which are not pro- 
duced until the following spring. Its corollse resemble 
those of the true Saffron, a native of the East, but long 
cultivated in Great Britain, where it is sometimes found 
apparently wild. They are plants of the Iris order. 

From the Meadow Saffron is obtained a corm or bulb, 
dug up in the spring, of which the well-known tincture 
of colchicum, a specific for rheumatism, is made ; and 
from the true Safifron flowers are taken the familiar 
orange red stigmata, which furnish the fragrant colour- 
ing matter used by confectioners in cakes, and by the 
apothecary for his syrup of Saffron, etc. 

The flower of the Meadow Saffron rises bare from 
the earth, and is, therefore, called " Upstart " and 
" Naked Lady." This plant owes its botanical name 
Colchicum, to Colchis, in Natalia, which abounded in 
poisonous vegetables, and gave rise to the fiction about 
the enchantress Medea. She renewed the vitality of her 
aged father, JEneas, by drawing blood out of his veins 
and refilling them with the juices of certain herbs. The 
fabled origin of the Saffron plant ran thus. A certain 
young man named Crocus went to play at quoits in a 
field with Mercurie, when the quoit of his companion 
happened by misfortune to hit him on the head, 
whereby, before long, he died, to the great sorrow of 


his friends. Finally, in the place where he had bled, 
Saffron was found to be growing : whereupon, the people, 
seeing the colour of the chine as it stood, adjusted 
it to come of the blood of Crocus, and therefore they 
gave it his name. The medicinal properties of Colchi- 
cum have been known from a very early period. In the 
reign of James the First (1615), Sir Theodore Mayerne 
administered the bulb to his majesty together with the 
powder of unburied skulls. In France, it has always 
been a favourite specific for gout ; and during the reign 
of Louis the Fifteenth, it became very fashionable under 
the name of Eau MMicinale ; but the remedy is some- 
what dangerous, and should never be incautiously used. 
Instances are on record Avhere fatal results have followed 
too large a medicinal dose, even on the following day, 
after taking sixty drops of the wine of Colchicum over- 
night ; and when given in much smaller doses it some- 
times acts as a powerfully irritating purgative, or as an 
emetic. The medicine should not be employed except 
by a doctor ; its habitual use is very harmful. 

The acrimony of the bulb may be modified in a 
measure if it, or its seeds, are steeped in vinegar before 
being taken as a medicine. 

The French designate the roots of the Meadow 
Saffron {Colchicum) as " Tue-chien " ; " morte aux chiens,'' 
" death to dogs." 

Alexander of Tralles, a Greek physician of the sixth 
century, was the first to advise Colchicum (Hermodactylon) 
for gout, with the effect that patients, immediately after 
its exhibition, found themselves able to Avalk. "But," 
said he, and with shrewd truth, "it has this bad property, 
that it disposes those who take it curatively for gout or 
rheumatism, to be afterwards more frequently attacked 
with the disease than before." 


Our druggists siipply an officinal tincture of Colchicum 
(Meadow Saffron) made from the seeds, the dose of 
which is from ten to thirty drops, with a spoonful of 
water ; also a wine infused from the bulb, of which the 
dose is the same as that of the tincture, twice or three 
times a day ; and an acetous extract prepared from the 
thickened juice of the crushed bulbs, of which from 
half to two grains may be given in a pilule, or dissolved 
in water, twice or three times a day, until the active 
symptoms are subdued, and then less often for another 
day or two afterwards. The most important chemical 
constituent of the bulb, flowers, and seeds, is " Col- 
chicin." Besides this there are contained starch, gum, 
sugar, tannin, and some fatty resinous matter. There 
is also a fixed oil in the seeds. 

Crocus verims, the True Saffron, grows wild about 
Halifax, and in the neighbourhood of Derby ; but for 
commercial uses the supply of stigmata is had from 
Greece, and Asia Minor. This plant was cultivated in 
England as far back as during the reign of Edward 
the Third. It is said that a pilgrim then brought from 
the Levant to England the first root of Saffron, con- 
cealed in a hollow staff, doing the same thing at the peril 
of his life, and planting such root at Saffron Walden, 
in Essex, whence the place has derived its name. 

The stigmata are picked out, then dried in a kiln, 
over a hair cloth, and pressed afterwards into cakes, of 
which the aromatic quality is very volatile. The plant 
was formerly cultivated at Saffron Walden, where it 
was presented in silver cups by the Corporation to some 
of our Sovereigns, who visited Walden for the ceremony. 
Five guineas were paid by the Corporation for the 
pound of Saffron which they purchased for Queen 
Elizabeth ; and to constitute this quantity forty 


thousand flowers were required. The City Arms of 
Walden bears three Safl*ron plants, as given by a Charter 
of Edward the Sixth. Saff'ron Hill, in Holborn, London, 
belonged formerly to Ely House, and got its name from 
the crops of Saffron which were grown there : " Occulta 
Spolia hi Croceo de colle ferebant " ( Comic Latin Grammar). 

In our rural districts there is a popular custom of 
giving Saffron tea in measles, on the doctrine of colour 
analogy ; to which notion may likewise be referred the 
practice of adding Saffron to the drinking water of 
canaries when they are moulting. 

In England, it was fashionable during the seventh 
century to make use of starch stained yellow with 
Saffron ; and in an old cookery book of that period, it 
is directed that " Saffron must be put into all Lenten 
soups, sauces, and dishes ; also that without Saffron we 
cannot have well-cooked peas." Confectioners were 
wont to make their pastry attractive with Saffron. So 
the Clown says in Shakespeare's JFinter's Tale, " I must 
have Saffron to colour the warden pies." We read of a 
Saffron-tub in the kitchen of Bishop Swinfield, 1296. 
During the fourteenth century Saffron was cultivated in 
the herbarium of the manor-house, and the castle. 
Throughout Devonshire this product is quoted to signify 
anything costly. 

Henry the Eighth forbade persons to colour with 
Saffron the long locks of hair worn then, and called 
Glibbes. Lord Bacon said, " the English are rendered 
sprightly by a liberal use of Saffron in sweetmeats 
and broth " : also, " Saffron conveys medicine to 
the heart, cures its palpitation, removes melancholy 
and uneasiness, revives the brain, renders the mind 
cheerful, and generates boldness." The restorative 
plant has been termed Cor hominis ; " " Anima 



imlmonum" " the Heart of Man " ; and there is an old 
saying alluding to one of a merry temper, " Domiivit 
in sacco Crod" " he has slept in a sack of Saffron." It 
was called by the ancients Aurum jMosophomm " 
contracted to Aroph." Also, Sanguis Herculis, and Bex 
Vegetabilium, " being given with good success to procure 
bodily lust." The English word Saffron comes from the 
Arabian — Zahafram — whilst the name Crocus of this 
golden plant is taken from the Glreek li rol-ee — a thread — 
signifying the dry thin stigmata of the flower. Old 
Fuller wrote " the Crocodile's tears are never true save 
when he is forced where Saffron groweth (Avhence he 
hath his name of Croco-deilos, or the Saffron-fearer), 
knowing himself to be all poison, and it all antidote." 
Frequently Marigold stigmata arc cheaply used for 
adulterating the true Saffron. 

Homer introduces Saffron as one of the flowers which 
formed the nuptial couch of J upiter : and Solomon 
mentioned it as growing in his garden : " Spikenard and 
saffron: calamus, and cinnamon" (Canticles iv., 14). 
Pliny states that wine in which Saffron was macerated 
gave a fragrant odour to theatres about which it was 
sprinkled. The Cilician doctors advised Cleopatra to 
take Saffron for clearing her complexion. 

The medicinal use of Saffron has always obtained 
amongst the Orientals. According to a treatise, Croco- 
logia (1670), by Hartodt, it was then employed as a 
medicine, as a pigment, and for seasoning various kinds 
of food. The colouring matter of Saffron is a substance 
called polychroite, or crocin; and its slightly stimulating 
properties depend upon a volatile oil. 

Boerhaave said that Saffron possesses the power of 
liquefying the blood ; hence, " Women who use it too 
freely suffer from immoderate menses." A tincture is 



made (H.) from the Saffron of commerce, which is of 
essential use for controlling female haemorrhages. Four 
or five drops of the tincture may be given with a spoon- 
ful of water every three or four hours for this purpose. 
The same tincture is good for impaired vision, when 
there is a sense of gauze before the eyes, which the 
person tries to wink, or wipe away. Smelling strongly 
and frequently at the Hay Saffron of commerce (obtained 
from Spain and France), will cause headache, stupor, 
and heavy sleep ; whilst, during its internal use, the 
urine becomes of a deep yellow colour. 

Of the syrup of Saflron, which is a slightly stimula- 
ting exhilarant, and which possesses a rich colour, from 
one to two teaspoonfuls may be given for a dose, Avith 
two tablespoonfuls of cold water. It serves to energise 
the organs within the middle trunk of both males and 
females ; also to recruit an exhausted brain. 

In Devonshire, Saffron used to be regarded as a most 
valuable remedy to restore consumptive patients, even 
when far advanced in the disease, and it was, therefore, 
esteemed of great worth : — 

" Nec poteris croci dotes numerare, nec usus." 

" Saffron is such a special remedy for those that have 
consumption of the lungs, and are — as we term it — at 
death's door, and almost past breathing, that it bringeth 
breath again, and prolongeth life for certain days, if ten, 
or twenty grains at most, be given in new, or sweet 
wine. It presently, and in a moment, removeth away 
difficulty of breathing, which most dangerously and 
suddenly happeneth." 

In Westphalia, an apple mixed with Saffron, on the 
doctrine of signatures, is given on Easter Monday, 
against jaundice. Evelyn tells us : " The German 



housewives have a a /ay of forming Saffron into balls, by 
singling it Avith a little honey, which, when thoroughly 
dried, they reduce to powder, and sprinkle it over their 
sallets for a noble cordial." Those of Spain and Italy, 
we know, generally make use of this flower, mingling 
its golden tincture with almost everything they eat. 
But, an excessive use of Saffron proves harmful. It 
will produce an intense pain in the head, and imperil 
the reason. Half-a-scruple, i.e., ten grains, should be 
the largest dose. In fuller doses this tincture will pro- 
voke a determination of blood to the head, with bleeding 
from the nose, and sometimes with a disposition to 
immoderate laughter. Small doses, therefore, of the 
diluted tincture, ought to relieve these symptoms when 
they occur as spontaneous illness. The inhabitants of 
Eastern countries regard Saffron as a fine restorative, 
and nuptial invitations are often powdered by them 
with this medicament. 

In Ireland women dye their sheets with Saffron to pre- 
serve them from vermin, and to strengthen their own 

" Green herbs, red pepper, mussels, Saffron, 
Soles, onions, garlic, roach and dace; 
All these you eat at Ferre's tavern 
In that one dish of bouillabaisse." 

— Thackeray . 


Our garden Sage, a familiar occupant of the English 
herb bed, was formerly celebrated as a medicine of great 
virtue. This was the Elalisphakos of the Greeks, so called 
from its dry and withered looking leaves. It grows wild 
in the South of Europe, but is a cultivated Simple in 
England, France, and Germany. Like other labiate herbs 



it is aromatic and fragrant, because containing a volatile, 
camphoraceous, essential oil. 

All parts of the plant have a strong-scented odour, 
and a warm, bitter, astringent taste. The Latin name, 
Salvia, has become corrupted through Sauja, sauge, to 
Sage, and is derived from salvere, *'to be sound," in 
reference to the medicinally curative properties of the 

A well-known monkish line about it ran to this effect : 
Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in liorto ? " Why 
should a man die whilst Sage grows in his garden 1 " 
And even at this time, in many parts of England, the 
following piece of advice is carefully adopted every 
year :— 

*'He that would live for aye 
Must eat Sage in May." 

During the time of Charlemagne, the school of Salerno 
thought so highly of Sage that they originated the 
dictum quoted above of Saracenic old pharmacy, but 
they wisely added a second line : — 

"Contra vim mortis non est medicamen in liortis." 

The essential oil of the herb may be more readily 
dissolved in a spirituous than in a watery vehicle. Of 
this, the active principle is " sal viol," Avhich confers the 
power of resisting putrefaction on animal substances ; 
whilst the bitterness and condimentary pungency of the 
herb enable the stomach to digest rich, luscious meats 
and gravies, if it be eaten therewith. 

Hence has arisen the custom of stuffing ducks for 
the table, and geese, with the conventional Sage and 
onions. Or there is no better way of taking Sage as a 
stomachic wholesome herb than by eating it with bread 
and butter. In Buckinghamshire a tradition maintains 



that the wife rules where Sage grows vigorously in the 
garden : and it is believed that this plant will thrive or 
wither, just as the owner's business prospers or fails. 
George Whitfield, when at Oxford (1733), took only 
Sage-tea, with sugar, and coarse bread. 

Old sayings tell of the herb, as Salvia salmtrix ; naturce 
conciliatrix ; and the line runs : — 

" Salvia cum ruta faciunt tibi pocula tuta," 

recommending to plant Rue among the Sage so as to 
keep away noxious toads. 

The Chinese are as fond of Sage as we are of their 
fragrant teas ; and the Dutch once carried on a profitable 
trade with them, by exchanging a pound of Sage leaves 
for each three -pound parcel of tea. 

It was formerly thought that Sage, if used in the 
making of cheese, improved its flavour. 

" Marbled with Sage the hardening cheese she pressed." 


" Sage," says Gerard, " is singular good for the head 
and brain ; it quickeneth the senses and memory : 
strengtheneth the sinews ; restoreth health to those 
that hath the palsy ; and takes away shaky trembling 
of the members." Agrippa called it " the holy herb," 
because women with child, if they be likely to come 
before their time, "do eat thereof to their great good." 

Pepys, in his well-known Diary says, " between Gos- 
port and Southampton we observed a little churchyard 
where it is customary to sow all the graves with Sage." 
In Frariche Comte the herb is supposed to mitigate 
grief, mental and bodily. 

" Salvia comfortat nervos, manuumque tremorem 

Tollit ; et ejus ope febris acuta fugit." 
" Sage helps the nerves, and by its powerful might 

Palsy is cured, and fever put to flight." 


But if Sage be smelt for some time it will cause a 
sort of intoxication, and giddiness. The leaves, when 
dried and smoked in a pipe as tobacco, will lighten the 

In Sussex, a peasant will munch Sage leaves on nine 
consecutive mornings, whilst fasting, to cure ague. 

A strong infusion of the herb has been used with 
success to dry up the breast milk for weaning ; and as a 
gargle Sage leaf tea, when sweetened with honey, serves 
admirably. This decoction, when made strong, is an 
excellent lotion for ulcers, and to heal raw abrasions of 
the skin. The herb may be applied externally in bags 
as a hot fomentation. Some persons value the Worm- 
wood Sage more highly than either of the other 

In the Sage flower the stamens swing round their 
loosely-connected anther cells against the back of any 
blundering bee who is in search of honey, just as in 
olden days the bag of sand caught the shoulders of a 
clumsy youth when tilting at the Quintin. 

Wild Meadow Sage {Salvia verhenac((), or Meadow 
Clary, grows in our dry pastures, but somewhat rarely, 
though it is better known as a cultivated herb in 
our kitchen gardens. The leaves and flowers afl'ord a 
volatile oil, which is fragrant and aromatic. 

Some have attributed the name Salvia sdarea, Clary 
(Clear eye) to the fact of the seeds being so mucilagi- 
nous, that when the eye is invaded by any small foreign 
body, their decoction will remove the same by acting 
as an emulsion to lubricate it away. The leaves and 
flowers may be usefully given in an infusion for 
hysterical colic and similar troubles connected with 
nervous weakness. Also they make a pleasant fer- 
mented wine. The Wood Sage is the Wood Germander, 



Teucrium scorodiida, a woodland plant with sage -like 
leaves, containing a volatile oil, some tannin, and a 
bitter principle. This plant has been used as a substi- 
tute for hops. It was called " hind heal " from curing 
the hind wheji sick, or wounded, and was probably the 
same herb as ElapJwboscuiii, the Dittany, taken by harts 
in Crete. A sruiff has been made from its powder to 
cure nasal polypi : also the infusion (freshly prepared), 
should be given medicinally, two tablespoonfuls for a 
dose: or, of the powder, from thirty to forty grains. The 
name "Germander " is a corruption from Chamoedrys, 
chaniai, ground, and drus. oak, because the leaves are 
like those of the oak. 

SAINT JOHN'S WORT [see page 287). 


Savin, the Juniper Savin (Sahina), or Saffern, is a herb 
which grows freely in our bed of garden Simples, if pro- 
perly cared for, and which possesses medicinal virtues 
of a potential nature. The shrub is a native of southern 
Europe, being a small evergreen plant, the twigs of 
which are densely covered with little leaves in four 
rows, having a strong, peculiar, unpleasant odour of 
turpentine, with a bitter, acrid, resinous taste. The 
young branchlets are collected for medicinal use. They 
contain tannin, resin, a special volatile oil, and extractive 

A medicinal tincture (H.) is made fi'om the fresh 
leaves, and the points of the shoots of the cultivated 
Savin. But this is a powerful medicine, and must be 
used with caution. In small doses of two or three 
drops with a tablespoonf ul of cold water it is of singular 
efficacy for arresting an active florid flux from the 


womb at the monthly times of women when occurring 
too profusely, the remedy being given every two, three, 
or four hours. Or from one to four grains of powdered 
Savin may be taken instead of each dose of the tincture. 

The stimulating virtues of Savin befit it for cleansing 
carbuncles, and for benefiting baldness. When mixed 
with honey it has removed freckles with success ; the 
leaves, dried and powdered, serve, when applied, to 
dispel obstinate warty excrescences about the genitals. 

Rubbed together with cerate, or lard, powdered Savin 
is used for maintaining the sores of blisters, and of 
issues, open when it is desired to keep up their deriv- 
ative action. 

The esseiitial oil will stimulate the womb to functional 
activity when it is passively congested and torpid. As 
to its elementary composition this oil closely resembles 
the spirit of turpentine ; and when given in small well 
diluted doses as a tincture (made of the oi! mixed with 
spirit of wine), such medicine does good service in reliev- 
ing rheumatic pains and swellings connected with 
impaired health of the womb. For these purposes the 
ordinary tincture (H.) of Savin should be mixed, one 
part thereof with nine parts of spirit of wine, and given 
in doses of from six to ten drops with a tablespoonful 
of water. Dr. Pereira says about the herb: "According 
to my own observation, Savin is the most certain and 
powerful stimulator of the monthly courses in the whole 
of our Materia Medica ; and I never saw any ill effects 
result from its administration." The essential oil may 
be preferred in a dose of from one to four drops on 
sugar, or in milk, when this functional activity is sought. 

Savin was known of old as the "Devil's Tree," and 
the " Magician's Cypress," because much affected by 
witches and sorcerers when working their spells. 




One of the most useful, but not best known, of the 
Cruciferous wild plants Avhich are specifics against 
Scrofula is our English Scurvy Grass. 

It grows by choice near the sea shore, or in 
mountainous places ; and even when found many miles 
from the sea its taste is salt. It occurs along the muddy 
banks of the Avon ; also in Wales, and in Cumberland, 
more commonly near the coast, and likewise on the 
mountains of Scotland ; again it may be readily cultivated 
in the garden for medicinal uses. If eaten as a salad 
in its fresh state it is the most effectual of all the 
antiscorbutic plants. 

The herb is produced with an angular smooth shining 
stem, twelve or fourteen inches high, having narrow 
green leaves, and terminating in thick clusters of white 
flowers. Its leaves are good and wholesome when 
eaten in spring with bread and butter. The juice, when 
diluted with water, makes a good mouth-wash for 
spongy gums. 

The whole plant contains tannin, and a bitter principle, 
which is butyl-mustard oil, and on which the medicinal 
properties depend. This oil is of great volatility and 
penetrating power ; one drop instilled on sugar, or 
dissolved in spirit, communicates to a cpiart of wine the 
taste and smell of Scurvy Grass. 

The fresh plant taken as such, or the expressed fresh 
juice, confers the benefits of the herb in by far the most 
effectual way. A distilled water, and a conserve pre- 
pared with the leaves, were formerly dispensed by 
druggists ; and the fresh juice mixed with that of 
Seville oranges went by the name of "spring drinks," 
or "juices." 

The plant is found in large quantities at Lymington 



(Hants), on low banks almost dipping into the sea. Its 
expressed juice was formerly taken in beer, or boiled in 
milk as a decoction, flavoured with pepper, aniseed, etc. 

This Scurvy Grass has the botanical name Cochlearia, 
or, in English, Spoonwort, so named from its leaves 
resembling in shape the bowl of an old-fashioned spoon. 
It is supposed to be the famous Herha Britannica of the 
ancients. Our great navigators have borne unanimous 
testimony to its never-failing value in scurvy ; and it 
has been justly noticed that the plant grows most plen- 
tifully in altitudes where scurvy is specially trouble- 
som.e and frequent. The green herb bruised may be 
applied as a poultice. 

For making a decoction of the plant as a blood 
purifier, and against scurvy, put two ounces of the 
whole plant and its roots into a quart jug, and fill up 
with boiling water, taking care to keep this well covered. 
When it is cold take a wineglassful thereof three, or four 
times in the day. 

Another name for the plant is Scruby grass. The 
fresh herb has a strong pungent odour when bruised, 
and a warm bitter taste. Its beneficial uses in scurvy, 
are due to the potash salts which it contains. Ex- 
ternally, the juice will cleanse and heal foul ulcers, and 
ill-favoured eruptions. 


Of marine plants commonly found, the Samphire and 
the Sea Holly have certain domestic and medicinal uses 
which give them a position as Simples ; and of the more 
ordinary Sea Weeds (cryptogamous, or flowerless plants) 
some few are edible, though sparingly nutritious, whilst 
curative and medicinal virtues are attributed to several 
others, as Irish Moss, Scotch Dulse, Sea Tang, and the 


Bladder wrack. It may be stated broadly that the Sea 
Weeds employed as remedial Simples owe their powers 
to the bromine, iodine, and sulphate of soda which they 
contairi. Pliny and Dioscorides in their days extolled 
the qualities of various Sea AVeeds ; and practitioners of 
medicine on our sea coasts are now unanimous in pro- 
nouncing Sea Weed liniments, and poultices, as of 
undoubted value in reducing glandular swellings, and in 
curing obstinate sprains ; whilst they administer the 
Bladderwrack, etc., internally for alterative purposes 
with no little success. Bits of Sea Weed, called Ladies' 
trees, are still to be seen as chimney ornaments in many 
a Cornish cottage, being fixed on small stands, and sup- 
posed to protect the dwelling from fire, or other mishaps. 

Samphire, of the true sort, is a herb difficult to be 
gathered, because it grows only out of the crevices of 
lofty perpendicular rocks which cannot be easily scaled. 
This genuine Samphire (Crithmnm marifimum) is a small 
plant, bearing yellow flowers in circular umbels on the 
tops of the stalks, which flowers are followed by seeds 
like those of the Fennel, but larger. 

The leaves are juicy, with a warm aromatic taste, and 
may be put into sauce ; or they make a good appetising 
condimentary pickle, which is w^holesome for scrofulous 
subjects. Persons living by the coast cook this plant 
as a pot herb. Formerly, it was regularly cried in the 
London streets, and was then called Crest Marine. 

Shakespeare alludes in well-known lines to the 
hazardous proceedings of the Samphire gatherer's 
"dreadful trade": — 

"How fearful 
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low ! 
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air 
Show scarce so gross as beetles : half-way down 
Hangs one that gathers Samphire : dreadful trade ! 
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head." — King Lear^ 




And Evelyn has praised the plant for excellence of 
flavour, as well as for aromatic virtues against the 
spleen. Pliny says Samphire is the very herb that 
the good country wife Hecate prepared for Theseus 
when going against the Bull of Marathon. 

Its botanic name is from the Greek ciith<\ " barley," 
because the seeds are thought to resemble that grain. 
The title Samphire is derived from the French Herhe de 
St. Pierre, because the roots strike deep in the crevices 
of rocks. St. Peter's Wort has become corrupted to 
Sampetre, Sampler, and Samphire. 

A spurious Samphire, the Inula critlimoicles, or Golden 
Samphire, is often supplied in lieu of the real plant, 
though it has a different flavour, and few of the proper 
virtues. This grows more abundantly on low rocks, and 
on ground washed by salt water. Also a Salicornia, or 
jointed Glasswort, or Saltwort, or Crabgras^, is sold as 
Samphire for a pickle, in the Italian oil shops. 

Gerard says of Samphire : " It is the pleasantest 
sauce, most familiar, and best agreeing with man's 
body." " Preferable," adds Evelyn, " for cleansing the 
passages, and sharpening appetite, to most of our hotter 
herbs, and salad ingredients." 

The Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimuni), or Sea Hulver, 
is a well-known prickly sea-green plant, growing in the 
sand on many parts of our coasts, or on stony ground, 
with stiff leaves, and roots which run to a great length 
among the sand, whilst charged with a sweetish 

A manufactory for making candied roots of the Sea 
Holly was established at Colchester, by Robert Burton, 
an apothecary, in the seventeenth century, as they 
were considered both antiscorbutic, and excellent for 


Gerard says : " The roots, if eaten, are good for those 
that be liver sick ; and they ease cramps, convulsions, 
and the falling sickness. If condited, or preserved with 
sugar, they are exceeding good to be given to old and 
aged people that are consumed and withered with age, 
and which want natural moisture." He goes on to 
give an elaborate receipt how to condite the roots of 
Sea Holly, or Eringos (which title is, according to 
Liddell and Scott, the diminutive of eerungos, "the beard 
of a goat." Or, Eryngo has been derived from the 
Greek eruggarein, to eructate, because the plant is, 
according to herbalists, a specific against belching). 
With healthy provers, who have taken the Sea Holly 
experimentally in toxical doses of varying strength the 
sexual energies and instincts became always depressed. 
This accounts for the fact that during the Elizabethan 
era the roots of the plant used i?i moderation were highly 
valued for renovating masculine vigour, such as Falstaff 
invoked, and which classic writers have extolled : — 

" Non male turn graiis florens eryngiis in hortis 
Quaeritur ; hunc gremio portet si nupta virentem 
Nunquam inconcessos conjux meditabitur ignes." 

— Rapinus. 

These Eryngo roots, prepared with sugar, were then 
called "Kissing Comfits." Lord Bacon when recom- 
mending the yolks of eggs for giving strength if taken 
with Malmsey, or sweet wine, says : " You shall doe 
well to put in some few slices of Eringium roots, and a 
little Ambergrice : for by this means, besides the 
immediate facultie of nourishment, such drinke will 
strengthen the back." 

Plutarch writes : " They report of the Sea Holly, if 
one goat taketh it into her mouth, it causeth her first to 
stand still, and afterwards the whole flock, until such 



time as the shepherd takes it from her. Boerhaave 
thought the root " a principal aperient." 

Irish Moss, or Carmigeeii, is abundant on our rocky 
coasts, and is collected on the north western shores of 
Ireland, while some of it comes to us from Hamburg. 
Its chief constituent is a kind of mucilage, which dis- 
solves to a stiff paste in boiling water, this containing 
some iodine, and much sulphur. But before being 
boiled in water or milk, the Moss should be soaked for an 
hour or more in cold water. Officinally, a decoction is 
ordered to be made with an ounce of the Moss to a pint 
of water : of which from one to four fluid ounces may 
be taken for a dose. 

This Lichen contains starchy, heat-giving nourishment, 
about six parts of the same to one of flesh -forming food ; 
therefore its jelly is found to be specially sustaining to 
persons suffering from pulmonary consumption, with an 
excessive waste of the bodily heat. At one time the 
Irish Moss fetched as high a price as half-a-crown for 
the pound. It bears the botanical name of Chondrus 
crispus, and varies much in size and colour. When 
growing in small pools, it is shallow, pale, and stunted ; 
whilst when found at the bottom of a deep pool, or in 
the shadow of a great rock, it occurs in dense masses of 
rich ruddy purple, with reddish green thick fronds. 

Iceland Moss contains the form of starch called 

lichenin." It is a British lichen found especially in 
Wales and Scotland. Most probably the Icelanders 
were the first to learn its helpful properties. In two 
kinds of pulmonary consumption this lichen best pro- 
motes a cure — that with active bleeding from the lungs, 
and that with profuse purulent expectoration. The 
Icelaixlers boil the Moss in broth, or dry it in cakes- 
used as bread. They likewise make gruel of it mixed 


with milk : but the first decoction of it in water, l3eing 
purgative, is always thrown away. An ounce of the 
Iceland Moss boiled for a quarter-of-an-hour in a pint of 
milk, or water, will yield seven ounces of thick mucilage. 
This has been found particularly useful in dysentery. 
Also contained in the Moss are cetrarin, uncrystalliz- 
able sugar, gum, and green wax ; with potash, and 
phosphate of lime. It affords help in dialjetes, and for 
general atrophy ; being given also in powder, or syrup, 
or mixed with chocolate. Francatelli directs for making 
Iceland Moss Jdlij. Boil four ounces of the Moss in one 
quart of water : then add the juice of two lemons, and a 
bit of the rind, with four ounces of sugar (and perhaps a 
gill of sherry Boil up and remove the scum from the 
surface. Strain the jelly through a muslin bag into a 
basin, and set it aside to become cold. It may be eaten 
thus, but it is more efficacious when taken warm. A Sea- 
Moss, the Lichen raariuum, is "a singular remedy to 
strengthen the weakness of the back." It is called 
" Oister-green." 

In New England the generic term " Moss is a cant 
word signifying money: perhaps as a contraction of 
Mopuses, or as a play on the proverb, " a rolling stone 
gathers no moss." 

The Dulse is used in Scotland and Ireland both as 
food and medicine. Botanically it bears the name of 
Iridea edidis, or lihodymenia pahimta (the sugar Fucus of 

There is a saying in Scotland : "He who eats of the 
Dulse of Guerdie, and drinks of the wells of Kindingie, 
will escape all maladies except black death." This 
marine weed contains within its cellular structure much 
iodine, which makes it a specific remedy for scrofulous 
glandular enlargements, or morbid deposits. 



In Ireland the Dulse is first well washed in fresh 
water, and exposed in the air to dry, when it gives out 
a white powdery substance, which is sweet and palatable, 
covering the whole plant. The weed is presently packed 
in cases, and protected from the air, so that being thus 
preserved, it may either be eaten as it is, or boiled in 
milk, and mixed with flour of rye. The powdery 
substance is " mannite," which is abundant likewise on 
many of our Sea Weeds. 

Cattle and sheep are very fond of Dulse, for which rea- 
son in Norway it is known as Soudsell, or Sheep's Weed. 
This Iridea edulis is pinched with hot irons by the 
fishermen in the south west of England, so as to make 
it taste like an oyster. In Scotland it is roasted in the 

The Maritime Sea Tang (Lamiitaria digitata) was be- 
lauded in the Proverbial FJiiloso2)hy of Martin Tupper :- — 

" Health is in the freshness of its savour ; and it cumbereth 
the beach with wealth ; 
Comforting the tossings of pain with its violet tinctured 

Tang signifies Anglo-Saxon " thatch," from Sea Weed 
having been formerly used instead of straw to cover the 
roofs of houses. When bruised and applied by way of a 
poultice to scrofulous swellings and glandular tumours, 
the Sea Tang has been found very valuable. The 
famous John Hunter was accustomed to employ a 
poultice of sea water and oatmeal. 

This weed is of common marine growth, consisting of 
a wide smooth brown frond, with a thick round stem, 
and broad brown ribbons like a flag at the end of it. It 
is familiarly known as Seagirdles, Tangle, Sea Staff, Sea 
Wand, and Cows' Tails. Fisher boys cut up the stems 
as handles for knives, or hooks, because, after the haft of 


the blade is inserted Avithin the stem, this dries, and 
contracts on the iron staple, becoming densely hard and 

The absorbent stem power of the Laminaria for taking 
up iodine is very large ; and this element is afterwards 
brought out by fire in the kelp kilns of Ireland and 
Scotland. Sea Tang acts most beneficially against the 
various forms of scrofulous disease ; and signally relieves 
some rheumatic affections. It is also used largely 
in the making of glass. 

Likewise for scrofula, sea water, being rich in chlorides 
and iodides, has proved both curative and preventive. 
Dr. Sena, of Valencia, gave bread made with sea- 
water in the Misericordia Hospital for cases of scrofulous 
disease, and other states of defective nutrition, with 
singular success. 

Another Laminaria (Saccharina), with a single olive 
yellow semi-transparent frond, yields an abundance of 
sweet " mannit " when boiled and evaporated. 

The Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), Kelpware, or 
Our Lady's Wrack, is found on most of our sea coasts in 
heavy brown masses of coarse-looking Sea Weed, w^hich 
cover, and shelter many small alga?. Kelp is an im- 
pure carbonate of soda containing sulphate, and chloride 
of sodium, with a little charcoal. 

By its characteristic bladders, or vesicles studded 
about the blades of the branched narrowish fronds, this 
Sea Weed may be easily known. 

These bladders are full of a glutinous substance, 
which makes ' the weed valuable both as a remedy for 
the glandular troubles of scrofula, and, when bottled in 
rum, as an embrocation, such as is specially useful for 
strengthening the limbs of rickety, or bandy-legged 
children. Against glandular swellings also the weed is 



taken iiiterruilly as a medicine, when burnt to a black 
powder. An analysis of the Bladderwrack has shown it 
to contain an empja-eumatic oil, sulphur, earthy salts, 
some iron, and iodine freely. Thus it is very rich in 
anti-scrofulous elements. 

The fluid extract of this Sea Weed has the long stand- 
ing reputation of safely diminishing an excess of personal 
fat. It is given for such a purpose three times a day, 
shortly after meals, in doses of from one to four teaspoon- 
fuls. The remedy should be continued perseveringly, 
whilst cutting down the supplies of fat, starchy foods, 
sugar, and malt liquors. When thus taken (as likewise 
in the concentrated form of a pill, if preferred) the 
Bladderwrack will especially relieve rheumatic pains ; 
and the sea pod liniment dispensed by many druggists 
at our chief marine health resorts, proves signally 
efficacious towards the same end. Furthermore, they 
prepare a sea-pod essence for applying on a wet com- 
press beneath waterproof tissue to strumous tumours, 
goitre, and bronchocele ; also for old strains and 

This Sea AVeed should not be obtained when too fully 
matured, as it quickly undergoes decomposition. 

Wrack is Sea Weed thrown ashore, from Vrafje, to 
reject. Wrack Grass (Zostem Maiina), is a marine 
plant with long grass-like leaves. 

There are four common Fnd on our coasts— the 
Nodosus (Knobbed Wrack), the VeskiLlosus (Bladder 
Wrack), the Serratus (Saw-edged Sea Weed), and the 
Canicidatus (Channeled Sea Weed). 

It is by reason of its contained bromine and iodine as 
safe medicinal elements, the Fucus vesiculosus acts in 
reducing fatness ; these elements stimulating all the 
absorbent glands of the body to increased activity. 


In common with the other Fmi it furnishes mannite, 
an odorous oil, a bitter principle, mucilage, and ash, this 
last constituent abounding in the bromine and iodine. 

For internal use, a decoction may be made with from 
two to four drachms of the weed to a pint of water, 
boiled together for a few minutes ; and for external 
application to enlarged or hardened glands, the bruised 
weed may be applied as a cold poultice. 

This Bladder AVrack is reputed to be the Anii- 
poli/scarciqiie nostrum of Count Mattaii. 

Although diminishing fat it does no harm by iiicUicing 
any atrophied wasting of the breast glands, or of the 

The Bkidderwrack yields a rich produce to the seaside 
agriculturist highly useful as manure for the potato field 
and for other crops : and it is gathered for this purpose 
all along the British coast. In Jersey and Guernsey it 
is called vraic. Among the Hebrides, cheeses, whilst 
drying, are covered with the ashes of this weed which 
abounds in salt. Patients who have previously suffered 
much from rheumatism about the body and limbs have 
found themselves entirely free from any such pains or 
trouble whilst taking the extract of Fucus Fesiculosus 
(Bladderwrack). This Sea Weed is in perfection only 
during early and middle summer. For fresh sprains and 
bruises a hot decoction of the Bladderwrack should be 
used at first as a fomentation ; and, afterwards, a cold 
essence of the weed should be rubbed in, or applied on 
wet lint beneath light thin waterproof tissue, or oiled 
silk, as a compress : this to be changed as often as hot 
-or dry. 

Laver is the popular name given to some edible Sea 
Weeds — the Porphijra lancijiiata, and the (/Ira latissima. 
The same title was formerly bestowed by Pliny on an 


aquatic plant now unknown, and called also Sloke, or 

Porpliyra, from a Greek word meaning " purple," is- 
the true Laver, or Sloke. It is slimy, or semi-gelatinous 
of consistence when served at table, having been stewed 
for several hours until quite tender, and then being 
eaten with butter, vinegar, and pepper. At the London 
Keform Club Laver is provided every day in a silver 
saucepan at dinner, garnished with lemons, to flank the 
roast leg of mutton. Others prefer it cooked with leeks 
and onions, or pickled, and eaten with oil and lemon 
juice. The Englishman calls this Sea Weed, Laver ; 
the Irishman, Sloke ; the Scotchman, Slack ; and the 
student, Forphyra. It varies in size and colour between 
tidemarks, being sometimes long and ribbon-like, of a 
violet or purple hue ; sometimes long and broad, whilst 
changing to a reddish purple, or yellow. 

It is very wholesome, and preventive of scurvy, being 
therefore valuable on sea voyages, as it will keep good 
for a long time in closed tin vessels. 

The Ulva latissima is a deep-green Sea Weed, called 
b}" the fishermen Oyster Green, because employed ta 
cover over oysters. This is likewise known as Laver^ 
because sometimes substituted by epicures for the true 
Laver {Porphyra) when the latter cannot be got ; but it 
is not by any means as good. The name Ulva is from 
nl, meaning " water." 

Sea Spinach (Salsolacea—Spirolohea) is a Saltwort 
found growing on the shore in Hampshire and other 
parts of England, the best of all wild vegetables for the 
table, having succulent leaves shaped like worms, and 
being esteemed as an excellent antiscorbutic. 

The Sea Beet — a Chenopod — which grows plentifully 
on our shores, gave origin to the cultivated Beetroot of 


our gardens. Its name was derived from a fancied 
resemblance borne by its seed vessels when swollen with 
seed to the Greek letter B {beta). 

" Nomine cum Graio cui litera proxima primoe 
Pangitur in cera docti mucrone magistri." 
"The Greeks gave its name to the Beet from their alphabet's 
second letter, 

As an Attic teacher wrote it on wax with a sharp stiletto." 

B}^ the Grecians the Beet was ofiered on silver to 
Apollo in his temple at Delphi. A pleasant wine may 
be made from its roots, and its juice when applied with 
a brush is an excellent cosmetic. The Mangel Wurzel, 
also a variety of Beet, means literally, " scarcity root.'' 

Another Sea Weed, the Bladderlocks {Alaria esculenta)y 
henware," " honeyware,'' " murlins," is edible, the 
thick rib which runs through the frond being the part 
chosen. This abounds on the Northern coasts of 
England and Scotland, being of a clear olive yellow 
colour, with a stem as thick as a small goosequill, vary- 
ing in length, with its fronds, from three to twenty feet. 
The fruit appears as if partially covered with a brown 
crust consisting of transparent spore cases set on a 
stalk in a cruciform manner. 

Common Coraline {Corallina Anglica), a Sea AYeed of 
a whitish colour, tinged with purple and green, and of 
a firm substance, is famous for curing worms. 

The presence of gold in sea water, even as surround- 
ing our own islands, has been sufficiently proved ; 
though, as yet, its extraction is a costly and uncertain 
process. One analyst has estimated that the amount of 
gold contained in the oceans of the globe must be ten 
million tons, without counting the possible quantity 
locked up in floating icebergs about the Poles. 

Professor Liveredge, of the Sydney University, ex- 



amined sea water collected off the Australian coast, as 
also some from Northern shores, and obtained gold, from 
five-tenths to eight-tenths of a grain per ton of the sea 
water. It occurs as the chloride, and the bromide of 
gold ; which salts, as recently shown by Dr. Compton 
Burnett, when administered in doses almost infinitesi- 
mally small, are of supreme value for the cure of 
epilepsy, secondary syphilis, sexual debility, and some 
disorders of the heart. 

Dr. Kussell wrote on the uses of sea water in diseases 
of the glands. He found the soapy mucus within the 
vesicles of the Bladderwrack an excellent resolvent, and 
most useful in dispersing scrofulous swellings. He 
advises rubbing the tumour with these vesicles bruised 
in the hand, and afterwards washing the part with sea 


Several Herbal Simples go by the name of Self heal 
among our wild hedge plants, more especially the Sanicle, 
the common Prunella, and the Bugle. 

The first of these is an umbelliferous herb, growing 
frequently in woods, having dull white flowers, in 
panicled heads, which are succeeded by roundish seeds 
covered with hooked prickles : the Wood Sanicle 

It gets its name Sanicle, perhaps, from the Latin verb 
sanare, " to heal, or make sound ; " or, possibly, as a 
corruption of St. Nicholas, called in German St, Nickel, 
who, in the Tale of a Tub, is said to have interceded 
with God in favour of two children whom an innkeeper 
had murdered and pickled in a pork tub ; and he 
obtained their restoration to life. 

Anyhow, the name Sanicle was supposed in the 
middle ages to mean " curative," whatever its origin : 



thus, Qui a la Bugle, et la Sanicle fait aux chirurgiens la 
nicle — " He who uses Sanicle and Bugle need have no 
dealings with the doctor." Lyte and other herbalists 
say concerning the Sanicle : " It makes whole and sound 
all wounds and hurts, both inward and outward." 

" Celui qui Sanicle a 

De plaie affaire il n'a." 
" Who the Sanicle hath 

At the surgeon may laugh.'' 

The name Prunella (which belongs more rightly to 
another herb) has been given to the Sanicle, perhaps, 
through its having been originally known as Brunella, 
Brownwort, both because of the brown colour of its 
spikes, and from its being supposed to cure the disease 
called in Germany die hraune, a kind of quinsy ; on the 
doctrine of signatures, because the corolla resembles a 
throat with swollen glands. 

The Sanicle is popularl}^ employed in Germany and 
France as a remedy for profuse bleeding from the lungs, 
bowels, womb, and urinary organs ; also for the staying 
of dysenteric diarrhoea. The fresh juice of the herb 
may be given in tablespoonful doses. 

As yet no analysis has been made of this plant ; but 
evidence of tannin in its several parts is afforded by the 
effects produced when these are remedially applied. 

The Prunella vulgaris is a distinct plant from the 
Self Heal, or Sanicle, and belongs to the labiate order 
of herbs. It grows commonly in waste places about 
England, and bears pink flowers, being sometimes called 
Slough heal. This is incorrect, as the surgical term 
"slough" was not used until long after the Prunella 
and the Sanicle became named Self-heal. Each of these 
was applied as a vulnerary, not to sloughing sores, but 
to fresh cut wounds. 



The Prunella vulgaris has a flattened calyx, and 
whorls of purplish blue flowers, which are collected 
in a head. It is also known as Carpenter's Herb, 
perhaps, from its corolla, when seen in profile, being 
shaped like a bill hook ; and therefore, on the doctrine 
of signatures, it was supposed to heal wounds inflicted 
by edge tools ; whence it was likewise termed Hook-heal 
and Sicklewort, and in Yorkshire, Black man. 

By virtue of its properties as a vulnerary it has also 
been called Consolida ; but the daisy is the true Consolida 

" The decoction of Prunell," says Gerard, " made 
with wine and Avater, doth join together and make whole 
and sound all wounds, both inward and outward, even 
as Bugle doth. To be short, it serveth for the same 
that the Bugle serveth ; and in the world thera are not 
two better wound herbs, as hath been often proved." 

The Bugle, or middle Comfrey, is also a Sanicle, 
because of its excellence for healing wounds, in common 
with the Prunella and the true Sanicle. It grows in 
almost every wood, and copse, and moist shadowy 
place, being constantly reckoned among the Con- 

This herb {Ajuga reptans) is of the labiate order, 
bearing dark blue or purple flowers, whorled, and 
crowded into a spike. Its decoction, "when drunk, 
healeth and maketh sound all wounds of the body." 
^' It is so singular good for all sorts of hurts that none 
who know its usefulness will be ever without it. If the 
virtues of it make you fall in love with it (as they will 
if you be wise), keep a syrup of it to take inwardly, 
and an ointment and plaister of it to use outwardly, 
always by you." 

The chemical principles of the Prunella and the Bugle 



resemble those of other Labiate herbs, comprising a 
volatile oil, some bitter principle, tannin, sugar, and 
cellulose. The Ladies' Mantle, Alchemilla — a common 
inconspicuous weed, found everywhere — is called Great 
Sanicle, also Parsley-breakstone, or Piercestone, because 
supposed to be of great use against stone in the bladder. 
It contains tannin abundantly, and is said to promote 
quiet sleep if placed under the pillow at night. Endy- 
mionu somnnm dormire." 


The small Shepherd's Purse (Bursa CapseUa Pastoris) 
is one of the most common of wayside English weeds. 
The name CapseUa signifies a little box, in allusion to 
the seed pods. It is a Cruciferous plant, made familiar 
by the diminutive pouches, or flattened pods at the 
end of its branching stems. This herb is of natural 
growth in most parts of the world, but varies in 
luxuriance according to soil and situation, whilst thickly 
strewn over the whole surface of the earth, facing alike 
the heat of the tropics, and the rigours of the arctic 
regions ; even, if trodden underfoot, it rises again and 
iigain with ever enduring vitality, as if designed to 
fulfil some special purpose in the far-seeing econom}^ 
of nature. It lacks the winged valves of the 

Our old herbalists called it St. James's Wort, as a gift 
from that Saint to the people for the cure of various 
diseases, St. Anthony's Fire, and several skin eruptions. 
In France, too, the plant goes by the title of Fleri7- de 
Saint Jacques. It flowers from early in Spring until 
Autumn, and has, particularly in Summer, an acrid bitter 
taste. Other names for the herb are, " Case weed," 
*'Pick pocket," and ''Mother's heart," as called so by 


children. If a pod is picked they raise the cry, "You've 
plucked out your mother's heart." Small birds are fond 
of the seeds. 

Bombelon, a French chemist, has reported most 
favourabl}^ about this herb as of prompt use to arrest 
bleedings and floodings, when given in the form of a 
fluid extract, one or two teaspoonfuls for a dose. He 
explains that our hedge-row Simple contains a tannate, 
an alkaloid "bursine," (which resembles sulphocyansina- 
pine), and bursinic acid, this last "constituent being 
the active medicinal principle. English chemists now 
prepare and dispense the fluid extract of the herb. 
This is given for dropsy in the U. S. America as a 
diuretic ; from half to one teaspoonful in water for a 

Dr. Yon Ehrenwall relates a recent case of female 
flooding, which had defied all the ordinary remedies, 
and for which, at the suggestion of a neighbour, he tried 
an infusion of the Shepherd's Purse weed, with the 
result that the bleeding stopped after the first teacupful 
of the infusion had been taken a few minutes. Since 
then he has used the plant in various forms of haemorrhage 
with such success that he considers it the most reliable 
of our medicines for staying fluxes of blood. " Shep- 
herd's Purse stayeth bleeding in any part of the body, 
whether the juice thereof be drunk, or whether it be 
used poultice-like, or in bath, or any way else." 

Besides the ordinary constituents of herbs, it is found 
to contain six per cent, of soft resin, together with a 
sulphuretted volatile oil, which is identical with that of 
Mustard, as obtained likewise from the bitter Candytuft, 
Iheris arnara. 

Its medicinal infusion should be made with an ounce 
of the plant to twelve ounces of water, reduced by 



boiling to half-a-pint ; then a wineglassful may be given 
for a dose. 

The herb and its seeds were employed in former 
times to promote the regular monthly flow in women. 

It bears, further, the name of Poor Man's Permacetty 
(or Spermaceti), " the sovereignst remedy for bruises;" — 
"perhaps," says Dr. Prior, "as a joke on the Latin name 
Bursa pastoris, or ' Purse,' because to the poor man this 
is always his best remedy." And in some parts of 
England the Shepherd's Purse is known as Clapper 
Pouch, in allusion to the licensed begging of lepers at 
our crossways in olden times with a bell and a clapper. 
They would call the attention of passers-by with the 
bell, or with the clapper, and would receive their alms 
in a cup, or a basin, at the end of a long pole. The 
clapper was an instrument made of two or three boards, 
by rattling which the wretched lepers incited people to 
relieve them. Thus they obtained the name of Rattle 
Pouches, which appellation has been extended to this 
small plant, in allusion to the little purses which it 
hangs out by the wayside. Because of these miniature 
pockets the herb is also named Toy Wort ; and Pick 
Purse, through being supposed to steal the goodness of 
the land from the farmer. In Queen Elizabeth's time 
leper hospitals were common throughout England ; and 
many of the sufferers were banished to the Lizard, in 

The Shepherd's Parse is now announced as the chief 
remedy of the seven " marvellous medicines " prepared 
by Count Matt^ei, of Bologna, which are believed by 
his disciples to be curative of diseases otherwise 
intractable, such as cancer, internal aneurism, and 
destructive leprosy. 

Count MattJei professed to extract certain vegetable 




electricities found stored up in this, and some other 
plants, and to utilize them for curative purposes with 
almost miraculous success. His other herbs, as revealed 
by a colleague. Count Manzetti, are the Knotgrass, the 
Water Betony, the Cabbage, the Stonecrop, the House- 
leek, the Feverfew, and the Watercress. Lady Paget, 
when interviewing Count Mattsei, gathered that Shep- 
herd's Purse is the herb which furnishes the so-called 
"blue electricity," of extraordinary efficacy in controlling 

Small birds are fond of the seeds : and the young radical 
leaves are sold in Philadelphia as greens in the Spring. 


Two Potentillas occur among our common native plants, 
and possess certain curative virtues (as popularly 
supposed), the Silverweed and the Cinquefoil. They 
belong to the Rose tribe, and grow abundantly on our 
roadsides, being useful as mild astringents. 

The Potentilla anserina (Silverweed) is found, as its 
adjective suggests, where geese are put to feed. 

Country folk often call it Cramp Weed : but it is 
more generally knoAvn as Goose Tansy, or Goose Gray, 
because it is a spurious Tansy, fit only for a goose ; or, 
perhaps, because eaten by geese. Other names for the 
herb are Silvery Cinquefoil, and Moorgrass. It occurs 
especially on clay soils, being recognised by its pinnate 
white silvery leaves, and its conspicuous golden 

In Yorkshire the roots are known as "moors," which 
boys dig up and eat in the winter ; whilst swine will 
also devour them greedily. They have then a sweet 
taste like parsnips. In Scotland, also, they are eaten 
roasted, ,or boiled ; and sometimes, in hard seasons, 



when other provisions were scanty, these roots have 
been known to support the inhabitants of certain islands 
for months together. 

Both the roots and the leaves are mildly astringent ; 
so that their infusion helps to stay diarrhoea, and the 
fluxes of women ; making also with honey a useful 
gargle. The leaf is of an exquisitely beautiful shape, 
and may be seen carved on the head of many an old 
stall in Church, or Cathedral. By reason of its five 
leaflets, this gives to the plant the title " five leaf," or 
five fingered grass, Peiitedaldulon. Potentilla comes from 
the Latin j^otens, as alluding to the medicinal virtues 
of the species. 

In former days the Cinquefoil was much affected as 
a heraldic device through the number of the leaflets 
answering to the five senses of man ; whilst the right 
to bear Cinquefoil was considered an honourable distinc- 
tion to him who had worthily mastered his senses, and 
■conquered his passions. 

Silverweed tea is excellent to relieve cramps of the 
"belly ; and compresses, wrung out of a hot decoction of 
the herb, may at the same time be helpfully applied 
over the seat of the cramps. A potent Anglo-Saxon 
charm against crampy bellyache was to wear a gold 
ring with a Dolphin engraved on it, and bearing in 
Greek the mystic words : — "Theos keleuei mee keneoon 
ponois," " God forbids the pains of colic." This acted 
doubtless by mental suggestion, as in the cure of warts. 
The knee-cap bone, or patella, of a sheep, known locally 
iis the " cramp-bone," is worn in Northamptonshire for 
a like purpose ; also the application of a gold wedding 
ring (first wetted with saliva, an ingredient in the holy 
salve of the Saxons), to a stye threatened in an eyelid 
is often found to disperse the swelling ; but in this case 



it may be, that a sulphocyanide of gold is formed with 
the spittle, which promotes the cure by absorption. 

A strong infusion, if used as a lotion, will check the 
bleeding of piles, the ordinary infusion being meantime 
taken as a medicine. 

The good people of Leicestershire were accustomed in 
bygone days to prevent pitting by small-pox with the 
use of Silverweed fomentations. A distilled water of 
the herb takes away freckles, spots, pimples in the face, 
and sunburnings ; whilst all parts of the plant are found 
to contain tannin. 

The Creeping Cinquefoil {Potentilla repians) grows 
also al)undantly on meadow banks, having astringent 
roots, which have been used medicinally since the times- 
of Hippocrates and Dioscorides, 

They were found to cure intermittent fevers, such as 
used to prevail in marshy or ill-drained lands much more 
commonly than now in Great Britain ; though country 
folk still use the infusion or decoction for the same 
purpose in some districts ; also for jaundice. 

Likewise, because of the tannin contained in the outer 
bark of the roots, their decoction is useful against 
diarrhoea ; and their infusion as a gargle for relaxed 
sore throats. But, except in mild cases, other more 
positively astringent herbs are to be preferred. The 
roots afford a useful red dye. 


A useful medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the 
Skullcap (Scutellaria), which is a Labiate plant of 
frequent growth on the banks of our rivers and ponds, 
having bright blue flowers, with a tube longer than the 
calyx. This is the greater variety (Galericulafa). There- 
is a lesser variety (Scutellaria minor), which is in- 



frequent, and grows in bogs about the West of England, 
with flowers of a dull purple colour. Each kind gets its 
name from the Latin scutella, "a little cap," which the 
calyx resembles, and is therefore called Hood Wort, or 
Helmet flower. The upper lip of the calyx bulges 
outward about its middle, and finally closes down like a 
lid over the fruit. When the seed is ripe it opens again. 

Provers of the tincture (H.) in toxic doses experienced 
giddiness, stupor, and confusion of mind, twitchings of 
the limbs, intermission of the pulse, and other symptoms 
indicative of the epileptiform " petit mal " ; for which 
morbid affection, and the disposition thereto, the said 
tincture, of a diluted strength, in small doses, has 
been successfully given. 

The greater Skullcap contains, in common \\ ith most 
other plants of the same order, a volatile oil, oannin, 
fat, some bitter principle, sugar, and cellulose. 

If a decoction of the plant is made with two ounces 
of the herb to eight ounces of water, and is taken for 
some weeks continuously in recent epilepsy, or when 
the disease has only functional causes, it will often 
prove very beneficial. Likewise, this decoction, in 
common with an extract of the herb, has been given cur- 
atively for intermittent fever and ague, as well as for some 
depressed, and disordered states of the nervous system. 

A dried extract of the lesser Skullcap {Lateriflora) is 
made by chemists, and given in doses of from one to 
three grains as a pill to relieve severe hiccough, and as 
a nervine stimulant ; also for the sleeplessness of an 
exhausted brain. 


The parent tree which produces the Sloe is the Black- 
thorn, our hardy, thorny hedgerow shrub {Prunus 



sjnnosa), Greek Frounee, common everywhere, and 
starting into blossom of a pinky white about the middle 
of March before a leaf appears, each branchlet ending in 
a long thorn projecting beyond the flowers at right 
angles to the stem. From the conspicuous blackness of 
its rind at the time of flowering, the tree is named 
Blackthorn, and the spell of harsh unkindly cold 
weather which prevails about then goes by the name of 
" blackthorn winter." 

The term Sloe, or Sla, means not the fruit but the 
hard trunk, being connected with a verb signifying to 
slay, or strike, probably because the wood of this tree 
was used as a flail, and nowadays makes a bludgeon. 

In the Autumn every branch becomes clustered with 
the oval blue-black fruit presently covered with a fine 
j^urple bloom : and until mellowed hy the early frosts, 
this fruit is ver}^ harsh and sour. 

The leaves, when they unfold late in the spring, are 
small and narrow. If dried, they make a very fair 
substitute for tea, and when high duties were placed on 
imported tea, it was usual to find the sloe trees stripped 
of their marketable foliage. 

Furthermore, the dark ruby juice of Sloes enters 
largely into the manufacture of British port wine, to 
which it communicates a beautiful deep red colour, and 
a pleasant sub-acid roughness. Letters marked upon 
linen fabric with this juice, when used fresh, will not 
wash out. 

If obtained by expression from the unripe fruit, it is 
very useful as an astringent medicine, and is a popular 
remedy for stopping a flow of blood from the nose. It 
may be gently boiled to a thick consistence, and will 
then keep throughout the year without losing its virtues. 
Winter-picks is a provincial name for the Sloe fruit, 



and winter-pick wine takes the place of port in the 
rustic cellar. The French call them Prunelles. 

Sloe-blossoms make a safe, harmless, laxative medi- 
cine. To use these, " Boil them up, and drink a cup of 
the tea daily for three or four days ; it will act gently, 
painlessly, but thoroughly." The syrup is especially 
useful for children. 

Country people bury the Sloes in jars to preserve 
them for winter use ; and the bush which bears this 
fruit is sometimes called, provincially, Scroggs. 

Sloes ma}^ Ije gathered when ripe on a dry day, 
picked clean, and put into jars or bottles, without any 
boiling or other process, and then covered with loaf 
sugar ; a tablespoonful of brandy should presently be 
added, and the jar sealed. By Christmas, the syrup 
formed from the juice, the sugar, and the spirit, will 
have covered and saturated the fruit, and then a couple 
of tablespoonfuls will not only make an agreeable dessert 
liqueur, but will act as an astringent cordial of a very 
pleasant sort. 

In Somersetshire the Sloe is named Snag (as corrup- 
ted from " Slag," i. e., Sloe). The juice is viscid, and 
when thickened to dryness, is the German Gum Acacia. 

Those provers who have taken experimentally a tinc- 
ture made from the wood and bark and leaves of the 
Blackthorn, all had to complain of sharp pains in the 
right eyeball ; and accordingly the diluted tincture is 
found, when administered in small quantities, to give 
signal relief for ciliary neuralgia, arising from a 
functional disorder of the structures within the eyeball. 
Dr. Hughes says : " It not only relieves such pains, 
but also checks the inflammation, and clears the vision." 
The medicinal tincture is made (H.) with proof spirit of 
wiiie from the flower buds collected in early spring 



before they expand. The Sloe has been employed as a 
styptic ever since the time of Dioscorides. " From the 
effects," says Withering, " which I have repeatedly 
observed to follow a wound from the thorns, I find 
reason for believing that there is something poisonous 
in their nature, particularly in the autumn." 

Next to the Sloe in order of development comes the 
Bullace (Primus insititia), a shrub with fewer thorns, and 
bearing its flowers after the leaves have begun to unfold. 

The fruit is five times as big as the Sloe, but likewise 
of a delicate bluish colour. It is named from the Latin 
plural hullas, meaning the round bosses which the 
Romans put on their bridles. Lydgate (1440) used the 
phrase, " As bright as Bullaces," in one of his poems. 
In Lincolnshire the blossom is known as "Bully bloom, ' 
and the fruit are "Bullies." After harvest the women 
and children go out gathering them for Bullace-wine. 
Boys in France call Sloes Sibarelles/' because it is 
impossible to whistle immediately after eating them. 
Some writers say the signification of "Sloe" is "that 
which sets the teeth on edge." 

Finally comes the true Wild Plum {Frnniis domesficd), 
which is far less common than the two preceding sorts. 
Its flowers are large, and in small clusters, whilst the 
leaves unfold with the blossom. The fruit is a small 
brownish plum, intensely sharp and acrid to the taste, 
and the tree is thorny. Only in this latter respect does 
it differ from an inferior kind of garden plum of which 
the cultivation has been neglected. 

The cultivated Plum has been developed from the 
AVild Plum, and has been made to exhibit some fifty 
varieties of form and character. The fruit of Damascus 
was formerly much valued, being now known as Damas- 
cenes, (damsons), Damasin, or Damask prune. 



All the Wild Plums develop thorns; but the cultivated 
kinds have entirely cast them off. The Plum, as a fruit, 
was known to the Komans in Cato s time, but not the 

" Little Jack Horner," says the familiar nurseiy 
rhyme, " sat in a corner, eating a Christmas pie ; he put 
in his thumb, and he pulled out a plum, and said ' What 
a good boy am I.' " 

" Inquit, et unum extralieus prunum, 
Horner, quam fiieris nobile pueris 
Exemplar imi Labile " ! 

When ripe, cultivated Plums are cooling and slightly 
laxative, especially the French fruit, which is dried and 
bottled for dessert. They are useful for costive habits, 
iind may be made into an electuary ; but, when uinipe, 
Plums provoke choleraic diarrhoia. The garden fruit 
■contains less sugar than cherries, but a large amount of 
gelatinising pectose. Dr. Johnson was specially fond of 
veal pie with plums and sugar. He taunted Boswell 
about the need of gardeners to produce in Scotland 
what grows wild in England. "Pray, Sir," said he, 
"are you ever able to bring the Sloe to perfection 
there 1 " On Change a hundred thousand pounds are 
whimsically known as "a plum," and a million of money 
is "a marigold." Lately a Chicago physician whilst 
officiating at a Reformatory found that the boys be- 
haved themselves much better when taking prunes in 
their diet than at any other time. These act, he sup- 
poses, on certain organs which are the seats, and centres 
•of the passions. 

From France comes the Greengage, named in that 
country (out of compliment to the Queen of Francis the 
First) La Heine Claude. It was brought to England from 



the Monastery of La Grande Chartreuse, about the 
middle of the eighteenth century, by the Rev. John 
Gage, brother to the owner of Hengrave Hall, near 
Coldham, Suffolk ; and taking his name this fruit soon 
became diffused throughout England. 

French Prunes are conveyed to England in their dried 
state from Marseilles. With their pulp, figs, tamarinds, 
and senna, the officinal " lenitive electuary " is made ; 
and apothecaries prepare a medicinal tincture from the 
fresh flower-buds of the Blackthorn. 

Culpeper says : " All Plumbs are under Venus, and 
are like women — some better, some worse." 

In Sussex and some other counties, a superstitious 
fear attaches itself to the Blackthorn in bloom, 
because of the apparent union of life and death when 
the tree is clothed in early Spring with white flowers, 
but is destitute of leaves ; so that to carry, or wear a 
piece of Blackthorn in blossom, is thought to signify 
bringing a death token. 


The Soap wort {Saponaria officinalis) grows commonly in 
England near villages, on roadsides, and by the margins 
of woods, in moist situations. It belongs to the 
Carf/opJnjUaceoi, or Clove and Pink tribe of plants ; and 
a double flowered variety of it is met with in gardens. 
This is Miss Mitford's " Spicer " in Our Village. It is 
sometimes named "Bouncing Bet," and " Fuller's herb." 

The root has a sweetish bitter taste, but no odour. 
It contains resin and mucilage, in addition to saponin, 
which is its leading principle, and by virtue of which 
decoctions of the root produce a soapy froth. Saponin 
is likewise found in the nuts of the Horse-chestnut tree, 
and in the Scarlet Pimpernel. 



A similar soapy qualit}^ is also observed in the leaves, 
so much so that they have been used by mendicant 
monks as a substitute for soap in washing their clothes. 
This "saponin" has considerable medicinal efficacy, 
being especially useful for the cure of inveterate sjqDhilis 
without giving mercur}^ Several writers of note a